(ATR) FIFA, including its president Gianni Infantino, "remains at the disposal of Swiss authorities" as an investigation into meetings between Infantino and Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber is officially launched.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino was re-elected in June 2019. (FIFA)
Swiss authorities say a special prosecutor was assigned to look into complaints made against the two men, with indications of criminal conduct related to their meetings.
Among the accusations are abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders, and incitement to these acts.
Infantino has denied any wrongdoing, reiterating on Thursday the comments he made on June 25 that the meetings were “perfectly legitimate", "perfectly legal,” and "part of the fiduciary duties of the President of FIFA".
The Swiss Federal Administrative Court concluded that Lauber had covered up previous meetings he held with Infantino and lied to supervisors while his office investigated corruption surrounding FIFA.
Lauber has also denied any wrongdoing but resigned on Tuesday. He leaves office on August 31.
Infantino was elected in February 2016 to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter, who led world soccer’s governing body from 1998 to 2015 before becoming embroiled in one of several high-profile corruption cases involving dozens of high-ranking soccer officials. Blatter is serving a six-year ban from the sport.
"People remember well where FIFA was as an institution back in 2015, and how substantial judicial intervention was actually required to help restore the credibility of the organisation," said the FIFA President in a statement on Thursday.
"As President of FIFA, it has been my aim from day one, and it remains my aim, to assist the authorities with investigating past wrongdoings at FIFA. FIFA officials have met with prosecutors in other jurisdictions across the world for exactly these purposes. People have been convicted and sentenced, thanks to FIFA’s cooperation, and especially in the United States of America, where our cooperation has resulted in over 40 criminal convictions. Therefore, I remain fully supportive of the judicial process, and FIFA remains willing to fully cooperate with the Swiss authorities for these purposes."
Since January, Infantino has been a member of the International Olympic Committee. His status with the IOC is tied to his position as the head of an International Federation.
The IOC could open an ethics investigation file of its own against Infantino. Should he be suspended or ousted as president, it could affect his standing in the IOC.
Homepage photo: FIFA
Written by Jose Chavez
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