By Paul Nicholson
May 15 – FIFA has responded to reports of the criminal complaint filed against president Gianni Infantino with the regional prosecutor’s office in Bern, Switzerland, saying the complaint is farcical and that FIFA will not stop meeting with prosecutors in their investigations of criminal wrongdoing.
Concerns have been raised over three secret and undocumented meetings Infantino held with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. The context and content of those meetings is disputed, as is whether they influenced or compromised any on-going investigations, and/or involved the breach of Swiss secrecy laws with the divulging of privileged information.
The Swiss prosecutor’s office has seen a number of its FIFA cases collapse, most notably its investigation into Qatar boss of PSG and beIN Sport Nasser Al Khelaifi, and the failure to complete the court case in the prosecution of the German 2006 World Cup officials over alleged vote buying.
FIFA says that meeting with crime investigators is not a crime but general practice and vital in the battle against corrupt practices and individuals operating in football.
The FIFA statement said: “Meeting with prosecutors is a standard procedure not a crime. Making an complaint against someone for meeting a prosecutor is a farce.
“Those who fear being brought to justice can make as many anonymous complaints as they want. This will not deter FIFA and the FIFA President from cooperating with prosecutors in Switzerland and in other countries in their task of investigating and eventually holding wrong-doing to account.”
FIFA points out that the world governing body has been damaged by corrupt actions of former officials and football representatives, and that with its co-operation with US judicial authorities more than 40 criminal convictions have been achieved.
“As stated many times before, FIFA, which has been damaged by criminal actions in the past, holds regular meetings with authorities in Switzerland and elsewhere. The sole aim of such meetings is to assist the authorities in their investigation of criminal wrong-doing which has adversely affected FIFA,” said the FIFA statement.
“In many other countries people previously linked to football have been convicted and sentenced, also thanks to FIFA’s cooperation. In particular in the USA, cooperation with FIFA has led to over 40 criminal convictions.”
FIFA also said that neither Infantino nor FIFA were aware of the complaint filed in Bern.
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