FIFA President Gianni Infantino moves to Qatar
A year before the start of the football World Cup in Qatar, Gianni Infantino has decided to rent a house in the Gulf state that is due to host the tournament, it has been confirmed.
An investigation published by the SonntagsBlick newspaper confirmed that Infantino had rented a house in Doha and that two of his children are going to school there. The FIFA chief has been living in Doha since October 2021, the paper said.
FIFA, world football's governing body, has always denied rumours of Infantino's move to Qatar but was forced to admit it was the case following the SonntagsBlick investigation. The organisation claims that its president continues to work at its headquarters in Zurich and pay taxes in Switzerland. It told SonntagsBlick that Infantino spends half of his working time in Doha and that the house in the Qatari capital allows him to spend a lot of time with his family. However, according to SonntagsBlick, employees have confirmed that Infantino is rarely present in Zurich.
Infantino defended his move to Doha in the paper saying that the World Cup, which is taking place from November 21 to December 18, 2022, would be a historic event for the region and FIFA and that it was worth the greatest effort.
The governing body told SonntagsBlick it was necessary for Infantino to be in Doha regularly to help organise the tournament.
The move has raised eyebrows in the football community. English footballer turned broadcaster Gary Lineker responded on Twitter with the comment, “What the hell?”
Tariq Panja, a sports journalist with the New York Times, raised the thorny issue of the diminishing importance of FIFA's Swiss headquarters in Zurich.
Infantino’s predecessor, Sepp Blatter, told CH Media that the current FIFA president was entering into a dangerous relationship of dependency with Qatar. He felt it was part of a long-term strategy to move FIFA headquarters out of Zurich.
In the meantime, Infantino remains under scrutiny from the Swiss authorities. He faces criminal proceedings opened in July 2020External link over informal meetings with the former Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. At the time, Lauber, who stepped down from his post, was investigating FIFA for irregularities in the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar.
Infantino reportedly met Lauber secretly several times. They have been accused of abuse of power and breach of official secrecy. The presumption of innocence applies. Both Lauber and Infantino have denied any wrongdoing.
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