James Dostoyevsky: From the Infantino playbook: A Game of African Thrones

In one picture, a cut-away from an Al Jazeera broadcast on Twitter, you see him sitting next to a UK war criminal has-been in Manama, where a laughably androgynous Kushner delivers a ludicrous proposal for Mid-East Peace. [THIS “Pax Americana” risks to be a still-birth similar to Infantino’s neo-colonial football proposal to “Save Africa” (from itself, I take it?). What Kushner and other far-right bozos are planning to do to the Palestinians (if the rest of the world lets them), is significantly worse than GI Joe’s see-through plan to take control of African football.]

In another picture, not so long ago, GI Joe was obsequiously sucking up to Trump, grinning as usual. Weeks later, he did the next round of sucking-up, this time to France’s Micron (or was it Macron?), bandying about an idea that would allow him to move FIFA and himself to Paris, away from the Swiss and Zurich authorities who have just about had enough of his ilk.

Infantino doesn’t like Zurich. How could he? He fought the FIFA animal tooth and nail only to become its president… And now it seems that he doesn’t like Berne much either: GI’s antics and his meetings with Switzerland’s Federal Prosecutor Lauber, (one such collusory meeting both claim to have forgotten entirely, although it was not even a year ago) led to Lauber’s demise (the Swiss Federal Criminal Court’s three judge-panel ordered him to recuse himself from any and all FIFA investigations). It will more likely than not result in his dismissal from his cushy job in Berne. The bad news for Lauber is that this time, it isn’t only the Social Democrats who want his head (or do not want to re-appoint him to his present job) but also the Christian Democrats and the Liberals. Hence bad news all around.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The Swiss Federal Prosecutor covertly meets with Infantino to discuss  – what (?!). He later gets suspended from the big deal FIFA investigation because of it. Kattner and Valcke are likely to sue FIFA and possibly the State for damages as a result of it but, once again, the genius at the heart of it all, Infantino, seems to be getting away scot-free.

If the Swiss Authorities feel comfortable enough to kick out their highest prosecutor over shady meetings with Infantino, how is it that they don’t seem to be interested in digging a bit deeper and asking a few more questions of Infantino himself? After all, HE is the corpus delicti, is he not? And his prosecutorial buddy from his home Canton of Valais, who acted as the mandated go-between to Lauber for Infantino, has issues too. But isn’t it normal for a regional prosecutor to receive rewards in return for introductions? A trip and top tickets to the Russia World Cup, no less. Swiss media have reported that those rewards cost FIFA Swiss Francs 20’000. Nice.

How is it that Infantino appears to be above the law, while at the same time questions must be asked about his conduct even while he was still at UEFA? Not only questions about favouritism and nepotism involving certain broadcasting rights sales (or a diversionary job for a female). No. Questions also about some pre-EURO activities in Ukraine. You want names? Ask GI Joe. He knows. Although I have the feeling that he doesn’t really want to talk about it. But others know too. Trust me on that one.

Battle-ground Africa

Africa is apparently in such serious trouble that only the White Man Infantino can fix it (by parachuting a suitably professional African woman into the game. Literally). Infantino’s buddy Ahmad Ahmad, for some odd reason still president of CAF (despite serious allegations against him that also interest the French Police – but miraculously not Infantino’s Ethics Henchmen at FIFA) ran into a little trouble in Paris during the FIFA Congress. His trouble doubled when alleged financial misconduct was juxtaposed with sexual misbehaviour. Of course none of that is true, or is it?

FIFA’s General Secretary, Fatma Samoura, who was introduced by the same Ahmad Ahmad to Infantino in Madagascar – an intro that saw her quickly elevated to her post without the FIFA Council’s review or agreement – is now going to Africa to fix it. What?

After she was heaved into the plum FIFA post, there were elections to be held at CAF. In a rather unseemly way, Infantino and his handful of awkward African friends, moved heaven and (particularly) hell to get Ahmad Ahmad elected (Veron is not only a car make). This was a pretty surprising coup, let’s face it: the man, who barely scratched the surface of football focus but was a rather interesting political figure in his homeland (where Fatma used to reside as UN-something), won the election hands down. So, Infantino interfered in the CAF election (which he denies) and his man got elected (which is fact). Samoura helped a lot and was a happy girl. Her friend, Ahmad, had got her her job, and now she, with GI Joe’s help, got him his new job. The world was in balance.

All good? Think again:

With FIFA having decided to take control of CAF (remember, CAF asked for help with a forensic audit, not to send an occupying force), Infantino, without seeking his own FIFA Council’s advice – as he should have – decided to drop Samoura back into Africa to fix things. But not everyone is so compliant – the UEFA boss had the nerve to speak about conflict of interest? What? How can in-your-face favouritism ever be conflict when it is good for good old Gianni?

And the man from UEFA also said that there could well be a legal issue or two to review. And there is indeed.

CAF – just like one other group of jokers, those at CONMEBOL, plus the remaining Confederations AFC, OFC, UEFA and Concacaf – is not a Member of FIFA. None of the Confederations are Members of FIFA. They are entirely independent legal structures whose main job used to be the organising of regional competitions. FIFA have very limited powers over the Confederations. UEFA, while headed by every single President before Ceferin, always wanted to be more. It wanted to be a Governing Body (yes, Mr Aigner; yes Gianni). Which it is not, even if they make significantly more money in Europe alone than FIFA around the world. CAF is not a governing body either. And by the grace of its present president, it is so corrupt that Good Uncle Gianni and his above-all-suspicion Samoura decided to help the poor Africans. Just like the colonial powers used to, right? This looks like the old adage: “You poor little Africans cannot run your own affairs. Introduce: Gianni and Fatma and we’ll do it for you, poor things”.

If this is the moment when some of our readers develop a violent urge to vomit, who can blame them? It is after all not the first – nor the last – time that arrogant Europeans can be found lecturing some oh-so-corrupt African apparatchiks about how to run their affairs. Except that this time, there are other reasons for this game.

If you want to get rid of somebody in top management and can’t (for whatever reason), what you usually do is promote them to some new position that sounds good but one that is “off campus”. One feels that Samoura’s days at FIFA may well be counted, with being sent “to save Africa”, the route out. Step one is to parachute her into a temporary position. Step two is to quietly eliminate Ahmad Ahmad (in all friendship of course), and step three is to show the world how the amazing White Man created harmony again in poor old Africa by creating a fantastic new reality: Queen Samoura, the soon-to-be new President of CAF! After having professionally solved all of Africa’s problems, and after the King is decapitated, long live the Queen…

A Game of Thrones this really is. And a lot of blood will flow, I take it. Down the Nile and elsewhere

James Dostoyevsky is a Washington-based observer of politics and sports. He can be contacted at moc.l1571338072labto1571338072ofdlr1571338072owedi1571338072sni@o1571338072fni1571338072