Infantino punched again as ethics guru Weiler blows whistle on political manipulation

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks at the 67th FIFA Congress in Manama, Bahrain May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

By Paul Nicholson

September 14 – At FIFA they come like buses, you wait for one and another follows right behind. No sooner had sacked former chairman of FIFA governance committee Miguel Maduro lifted the lid on new FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s manipulations of the ethics system, than another former governance committee member revealed that he had filed a complaint to FIFA Ethics.

Speaking to the New York Times, Joseph Weiler said that he had filed his ethics complaints in the last few days and that they covered the same ground that Maduro had spoken of in his appearance before a House of Commons Select Committee where his evidence was given under parliamentary privilege that prevents his prosecution in the UK.

Maduro’s claims, reinforced presumably by Weiler’s ethics complaints submission, included attempts to dissuade Russia’s deputy prime minister, Vitaly Mutko, from running for a position on the organisation’s ruling council, as well as various cases of electoral abuses that were reported but allowed to go unchecked.

Maduro’s narrative is the story of a new political regime at FIFA that had no issue with pressuring its standing ethics bodies and points to a standing executive that is actively prepared to break its own election rules worldwide to make sure it has its supporters in key positions and forming majority.

“All of this information that I gave is known by FIFA,” Weiler told the New York Times. “I was hoping to see there would be action.”

When there was no action he formally informed the ethics committee.

“I want to believe the ethics committee will not remain indifferent to these issues and there will be serious investigations,” Weiler said.

Weiler did not reveal detail of his complaint but the assumption is that it includes a direct questioning of Infantino’s role in the governance abuses. Whether that triggers another investigation into Infantino remains to be seen and FIFA has refused to even acknowledge having received Weiler’s compliant – a tactic frequently used by FIFA when confronting corruption allegations.

Almost 18 months into his administration Infantino has already been cleared once by ethics investigators following allegations that he abused expenses. But with more detail emerging of his multiple interferences in the workings of FIFA’s ethics bodies, how confident can anyone be of the ‘cleanliness’ of that decision.

That Weiler has chosen to step forward now again shows how FIFA is struggling to marry good governance with political reality. It is particularly damning that their own former governance officials are putting the organisation in the dock for ethics abuses. It paints the picture of an Infantino political regime that is running out of control.

Weiler, a law professor at New York University but with a CV that takes in many of the world’s most respectable academic institutions in Europe, was the first of three members of Maduro’s committee who resigned last May after Infantino fired Maduro – only eight months after hiring him.

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