FIFA dismiss leaked memo on Infantino behavior

Published July 4th, 2016 - 02:24 GMT
Gianni Infantino
Gianni Infantino

FIFA has branded a leaked internal memo that accuses Gianni Infantino of rampantly poor ethical behaviour as "misinformation" spread by those who oppose the president.

Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung published an 11-page document, dated May 23, that makes a series of troubling claims against Sepp Blatter's replacement at the helm of FIFA.

It's stated that president Infantino accepted gifts and benefits from third parties, including the governments of Russia and Qatar, without declaring the conflict of interest it creates - a breach of FIFA's Code of Ethics.

The former UEFA secretary general, 46, is also denounced for allegedly hiring his own personal advisers without proper background checks and on salaries in excess of FIFA recommendations.

Infantino is heavily criticised for his part in the recent resignation of FIFA's head of auditing and compliance, Domenico Scala, in the leaked memo sent by an unknown employee to Scala's successor, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana.

It's alleged that Infantino instructed the FIFA Council, held in Mexico in May, to dismiss Scala "based on wrong facts" having been "insulted" by the £1.5 million salary he was offered.

Upon his resignation, Scala hammered Infantino and his Council for "smuggling" a last-minute amendment at Mexico's Congress in May that enabled it to meddle with supposedly independent parts of FIFA. Scala said: "It undermines a central pillar of the good governance of FIFA and destroys a substantial achievement of the reforms."

FIFA did not deny the authenticity of the memo published in SonntagsZeitung but rejected the legitimacy of the claims, insisting it's "old news dealt with months ago" being drudged up by those unhappy at imminent FIFA reforms.

"It is misinformation and a distraction by those who oppose the positive changes within FIFA," a statement said. "Infantino always acted appropriately and, taking into account FIFA rules and regulations, obviously any personal expenses are paid by the president."

That's not the picture painted by the leaked memo, however, which makes a slew of claims that FIFA's president has been spending company cash on frivolous purchases.

Infantino is alleged to have forced FIFA to bankroll £8,795 for mattresses at his home, £6,829 on a piece of exercise equipment, £1,086 for a tuxedo, £677 on flowers and £132 on personal laundry.

Infantino campaigned for the presidency under the pretence he would clean up FIFA's corruption crisis and make FIFA more transparent than it had been during Blatter's 17-year reign.

FIFA employees had been under investigation by the FBI and Swiss authorities since May 2015, when a string of indictments over racketeering, bribery, embezzlement and fraud rocked the football world.

Both Blatter and Infantino's former boss at UEFA, Michel Platini, were given substantial bans by FIFA's own Ethics Committee for an irregular payment from the Swiss football chief to the Frenchman.

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