FIFA defends President Infantino as criminal proceedings against him continue

FIFA has hit back against the criminal proceedings launched against President Gianni Infantino on Thursday saying that there is no reason for an investigation because “nothing remotely criminal has happened.”

In a question and answer format reported by InsideTheGames, a FIFA spokesperson provided an update denying any wrongdoing by Infantino.

When asked about whether meeting a prosecutor was illegal in Switzerland, they said: “it is not illegal anywhere in the world.”

A special prosecutor was appointed earlier this month to investigate dealings between Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber and the head of football’s world governing body.

Lauber offered to resign last week after a Swiss Court concluded he covered up meetings with Infantino and lied to supervisors while his office probed corruption surrounding FIFA.

Special prosecutor Stefan Keller had reportedly uncovered indications of criminal conduct related to the meetings.

In their statement, the spokesperson said: “At the time of the meetings between the FIFA President and the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, the Office of the Swiss Attorney General (OAG) was conducting investigations in over 20 cases in FIFA related matters and FIFA is a damaged party to those proceedings.

“It was therefore entirely logical for the FIFA President to be meeting the Swiss Federal Prosecutor.

“Meetings or contacts between parties and prosecutors are routine during an investigation.”

In their comments, they stressed that the reason the meetings were taking place was to build trust with the Swiss Attorney General after the years of corruption, with the first meeting taking place only 24 days into the FIFA chief’s tenure.

They also denied that the meetings took place in secret, arguing transparency on FIFA’s behalf.

“The meeting venues were organised by the OAG in public places, like hotels and restaurants,” they added.

“The FIFA President did not choose the venues for the meetings.

“All the meetings were officially scheduled well ahead of time by the OAG and were mentioned in their calendars.

“There is no obligation for the FIFA President under any FIFA regulation or any law to keep minutes of any such meetings.”

The statement also lambasted Keller by saying he presented “no serious elements or legal basis” for opening an investigation, with it allegedly being launched without allowing explanation by Infantino.

There was a mention of this already being investigated by a special prosecutor called Rinaldo Arnold, who closed the investigation without charges.

However, according to German newspaper Suddeutschee Zeitiung, Arnold faces a criminal complaint, raised in June – with it being alleged that he is a close friend of Infantino.