FIFA clears Infantino in ethics violation case
FIFA’s independent ethics committee has cleared its president Gianni Infantino of any alleged breach of its code, the Zurich-based world football governing body said on Wednesday.
Swiss authorities last month decided to open criminal proceedings against Infantino to look into undisclosed meetings between him and Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.
The ethics committee said it had received a complaint on June 21 and had received documentation from various Swiss authorities and administrative courts. Lauber and Infantino have denied any wrongdoing.
The committee said in a statement External linkon Wednesday: “Based on the information available to date, no aspect of the conduct analysed constitutes a violation of the FIFA regulations.”
The committee said some parts of the complaints did not “even fall within the provisions of the FIFA code of ethics, or justify the adoption of any kind of measure, including that of a provisional suspension”.
Chief ethics investigator Maria Claudia Rojas declared that the case was closed because of “the evident lack of a prima facie case regarding any alleged breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics.”
The FIFA decision was published three weeks after criminal proceedings were opened against Infantino by Swiss special prosecutor Stefan Keller. He assessed several complaints about the FIFA president’s meetings in 2016 and 2017 with Lauber and possible abuse of public office.
Swiss authorities said Keller concluded that there are indications of criminal conduct in relation to meetings between Infantino, Lauber and another official, Rinaldo Arnold, in 2016 and 2017. “This concerns abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and incitement to these acts,” the authorities said.
Infantino has called the investigations “absurd”.
The announcement also came the day a Swiss parliamentary committee confirmed Lauber would leave his job on August 31.
The Swiss attorney general offered to resign on July 24 after a federal court said he had committed breaches of his official duties and lied to investigators regarding the FIFA case. Lauber has denied that he lied.
The Swiss attorney general oversaw, and was later recused from, a major investigation of alleged corruption linked to FIFA and football officials since 2014. It has yet to bring any convictions and few charges in Switzerland. Meanwhile, dozens of officials were convicted, made guilty pleas or were indicted by the US Department of Justice.
Two meetings between Lauber and Infantino in 2016 were revealed more than two years later in confidential documents leaked to a German magazine. A third meeting in 2017 stayed secret until Swiss media reports several months after the leaks.
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