News 5th July 2016

Leaked memo accuses Infantino of Ethics Committee violations

An 11-page letter addressed to FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee accuses FIFA President Gianni Infantino of violating the FIFA Code of Ethics numerous times. The 23 May letter, obtained and anonymised by Sonntags Zeitung, alleges that Infantino has violated FIFA regulations in seven situations, backed by 12 attachments. It was sent to Sindisiwe Mabaso-Koyana, Acting Chairperson of the Audit and Compliance Committee following the resignation of Domenico Scala in May.

Private jets & other expenses

The document alleges that Infantino is guilty of breaching FIFA regulations regarding conflicts of interest, by chartering private jets not organised by FIFA. It also alleges that private jets booked by Infantino in April cost FIFA money, as it had already booked him tickets. The letter alleges that the flights are a breach of Articles 19 and 20 of the FIFA Code of Ethics, which prevent FIFA officials from accepting gifts which constitute a conflict of interest.

‘On 18/04/2016 Gianni lnfantino flew from Geneva to Moscow’, reads the letter. ‘On 20/04/2016 the trip continued from Moscow to Doha. Finally he flew home from Doha to Zurich on 22/04/2016. For this particular trip, FIFA Travel organized convenient commercial direct flights at a value of US$7,300. As there was only very last minute communication to the transport department with regards to the separately organised flights, the tickets issued by FIFA Travel could only be partially refunded. The total value of the private jet invitations are in a range of at least approx. US$115,000 to US$150,000, depending on aircraft and ferry-flights, even more.’

It also alleges Infantino used a private jet arranged by UEFA to fly to Slovenia for the opening of its football association headquarters on 6 May. It alleges that Infantino rejected FIFA’s proposed commercial flight options, which would have cost $1,800, instead accepting UEFA’s private jet, which it estimates cost between $12,000-$18,000.

‘According to the latest information obtained internally, he may accept a further invitation on a private jet in the next few days’, warns the letter. It is understood that this refers to a private jet from Milan to Rome after the UEFA Champions League final to visit the Pope, and then on from Rome to Geneva.

The document also alleges that Infantino insisted on FIFA hiring an external driver, who billed FIFA for driving his family and advisors around while he was abroad. It also details a $1,282 charge for six pairs of football boots; $1,444 for a tuxedo; $11,688 for mattresses bought for his apartment; plus a number of other lesser charges.

Alleged abuse of power

The letter also alleges that by holding a meeting on 10 May to discuss the removal of Domenico Scala, Infantino subverted the function of FIFA’s ethics bodies in overseeing the activities of the FIFA Council. The accusation continues a theme raised by Scala when he resigned in protest against a decision to allow the FIFA Council to swiftly remove ‘members who have breached their obligations’.

It also alleges that many of the candidates selected by Infantino on 13 May at the FIFA Congress had not passed FIFA eligibility checks, including the new FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura of the United Nations. It also alleges that Infantino appointed advisors who were ‘given a significant higher amount in excess to the proposed salary’.

It also alleges that Infantino has yet to sign his employment contract with FIFA, but falsely told Council members that his salary would be less than half of the €3.3 million paid to his predecessor and that he had no right to expenses within his employment contract. It therefore concludes that the FIFA Council ‘took a decision to dismiss Domenico Scala partly based on wrong facts stated by Gianni Infantino’.

Conclusion

Almost exactly a month ago, an internal investigation by FIFA’s law firm found that banned trio Joseph S. Blatter, Jérôme Valcke and Markus Kattner had awarded themselves CHF79 million (€71.4 million) over the last five years in contracts that may violate Swiss law. The news came on the same day that the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) confirmed it had carried out further raids on FIFA’s Zurich headquarters a day earlier.

The allegations against Infantino suggest that such practices may be continuing at FIFA. The international football confederation has yet to respond to the allegations, which could prove embarrassing for an organisation that is attempting to convince the world that it is committed to reform.

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