Infantino is not guilty

At a time where the Swiss are engaged in some legal house-cleaning, having appointed a Special Prosecutor to investigate the former Swiss AG Lauber and his motley crew (as well as the odd birds that flew in from the increasingly legendary Canton of Valais: birthplace of Blatter, Infantino and local celeb AG Rinaldo Arnold), Infantino’s professional defenders have decided unequivocally that they don’t see eye to eye with Swiss Legal Eagles and declare, to anyone who will listen, that Infantino has nothing to be concerned about.

Ethics FIFA Suprema Claudia Rojas (by now possibly a bit concerned about being tagged the ‘red-faced Rojas’), anointed and appointed by Infantino ad personam, found no fault in any of Infantino’s conduct and solemnly declared the other day that her Gianni was not guilty of any wrongdoing whatsoever, simply because he couldn’t possibly be.

Despite the fact that she and her similarly qualified Ethics troupe have not seen any of the evidence that is apparently before Special Prosecutor Keller; they lept to the conclusion after some very, very intense internal investigation that what mustn’t be, couldn’t possibly be.

I’m sure that the well intentioned Swiss are eternally grateful to the former UEFA lawyer and apparently key defender of Infantino, Alasdair Bell, who qualified Keller’s work (that he said himself that he has no detail of) as “absurd”. The Swiss always enjoy a foreigner, in present case a Brit, to tell them what their legal process is all about (nonsense) and where they should stick it (no, not there).

The audacity is not that of the Swiss Prosecutor (not the outgoing one Michael Lauber, who is being criminally investigated and whose immunity was lifted nigh-unanimously by Parliament). It is firmly that of Bell who doesn’t appear to comprehend that any qualification of an ongoing investigation (that has really only just started) is possibly not the smartest thing an outsider can do.

I doubt that Bell will hear favourable bells tolling anytime soon.

Fact is, his arrogant and pompous appearance before a handful of carefully selected media (the superman of the team is a tabloid genius who should receive a hefty fee for his staunch defence of Infantino), may still cost him. How dearly, is a thing of the future. But it is a thing.

FIFA’s PR campaign to protect the boss is awkward at best (after all, why pull out all the FIFA stops when FIFA is not a suspect – its President is, if anything). The newly hired hands smell badly of Trump – same approach, same bullshit, same excitement, same defects. It is the age we live in.

First of all, why defend a man who has not been convicted nor indeed charged (as yet) with a crime? Why pull the two-hander Bell out of his deputy GenSec armchair and make him say things that are not smart things to say. Some people in Berne might see it as interference with an ongoing investigation. Others might even think that his conceited comments were not only questionable but straightforward prejudicial to a case that is apparently more complex than Red Rojas can comprehend, given that she speaks nothing but Colombian Spanish – not an official FIFA language – she may have been misled, poor thing (let’s be nice) into believing what she was fed (ok, let’s not do nice too much). Like, lost in translation and such.

The facts are reality-based. And those facts are unknown to the undoubtedly ingenious Bell, who nonetheless decided to offer a final verdict and label the Swiss Legal investigation into Infantino and Lauber et al as an absurdity, instigated by enemies of the FIFA President (he, too, seems to suffer from acute Trumpitis).

I don’t know what school of thought would opt for this strategic approach (Fatma Samoura’s attempt was at best infantile a few days later), but what I do know is that a case cannot be adjudicated before all evidence is collected and reviewed, the defence has had its day in being heard and proper legal assessments are made. None of this is the case today.

What is important to state is that Infantino is not guilty of anything at this time.

He has not been convicted of a crime and he has not been charged, criminally or otherwise, with a crime either.

The only things that are on-going are investigations into possible criminal conduct – of his and of Lauber’s and of Arnold’s and others, one hears.

But guilty he is not.

Although to mount such an amazing public relations offensive speaks volumes. Probably in the wrong language again…

Let’s wait to see what the Law says – not what Bell(weather) says. He’s a surrogate, good old Bell, just as he was at UEFA, and he has been elevated to a position that smells badly of the Peter Principle.

But Gianni? No.

Gianni is not guilty. He was elected, did his thing, worked hard, messed some stuff up but guilty he is not as yet.

Anybody who says otherwise must be an “Enemy of the State”.

And “l’état, c’est moi”, right Gianni?


James Dostoyevsky was a Washington based author until the end of 2018, where he reported on sports politics and socio-cultural topics. He returned to Europe in 2019 and continues to follow football politics – presently with an emphasis on the Middle East, Europe and Africa.