By Andrew Warshaw
July 15 – Four separate whistleblowers have come forward with evidence to FIFA’s ethics committee over the suspect conduct of Gianni Infantino, Insideworldfootball has learned.
As Infantino, according to the BBC, was preparing to be interviewed by ethics investigator Robert Torres following allegations he breached FIFA’s code of ethics conduct just four and a half months after succeeding Sepp Blatter, highly-placed sources said four individuals had handed in information about the new FIFA president’s alleged wrongdoing.
They are understood to have been three senior officials sacked in recent weeks – finance chief Markus Kattner, head of FIFA’s travel department Severin Podolak and chief of the general secretary’s office, Christoph Schmidt – as well as Jin (sic) Huegin, the former Consolidation and Compliance head who also no longer works at the organisation.
According to the BBC it is believed 18 interviews have already been undertaken by ethics personnel following weeks of rumours that Infantino was under preliminary investigation.
A full investigation would only be opened if there were sufficient evidence of ethics breaches, some of which were cited in a leaked internal FIFA memo outlining a series of claims relating to Infantano’s expenses and recruitment practises. The memo questioned Infantino’s possible conflicts of interest, such as the use of private jets, and further alleged Infantino demanded FIFA hire an external driver over and above the FIFA pool car and driver already supplied.
More immediately, there is growing disquiet over why FIFA, at every turn, appears to be protecting Infantino when it comes to the timing of media statements in his name that attempt to gain the moral high ground and pre-empt any ethics action. Whether FIFA’s media department has become the mouthpiece of Infantino or still speaks for the organisation as a whole is one question many interested parties are asking.
The ethics committee has so far made no comment whatsoever on whether or not Infantino is being questioned. All ethics dealings with individuals are supposed to be confidential but before his reported meeting with Torres, FIFA issued a statement on Infantino’s behalf saying he “fully respects the independence and work of the ethics committee” and “would provide, if required, whatever information necessary to facilitate any potential review by the committee.”
The BBC report said external legal counsel is said to have been hired by FIFA to provide an independent assessment of the claims against Infantino and that it is understood to have concluded he has no case to answer. But in whose interest was the leak to the BBC about Infantino meeting Torres? Certainly not FIFA itself, or the ethics committee. The suspicion is that Infantino himself may in some way have been behind the leak in order to gain control, not for the first time, of the narrative being disseminated.
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