Much of the attention in the release of the Panama Papers -- a vast dump of data and documents leaked from a law firm Panama-based Mossack Fonseca specializing in creating offshore accounts -- has
been on the international leaders found to have ties to accounts -- from Russian President Vladimir Putin
to Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson
is a soccer angle to the leaks. Michel Platini
, Jerome Valcke
and Eugenio Figueredo
, all implicated in various FIFA scandals, had offshore accounts. In the case of Valcke, it was
set up to purchase a yacht.
There is nothing illegal about holding offshore accounts and no suggestion of any wrongdoing by these FIFA officials, but the release of the Panama Papers has
proved to be an embarrassment to FIFA.
The leaks reveal that Uruguayan Juan Pedro Damiani
, who served as a FIFA ethics judge in former FIFA president Sepp Blatter
had a relationship via his family law firm with hundreds of companies.
The papers show Damiani's firm, JP Damiani & Asociados, worked with fellow Uruguayan Figueredo, indicted by U.S.
authorities in May 2015, and Hugo Jinkis
and his son Mariano
, under house arrest in their native Argentina, where they are fighting extradition to the United States on the same
Again, nothing in the leaks shows illegal conduct by Damiani or his law firm, but his continuing work on the ethics committee after the May indictments has drawn the
attention of -- well -- the ethics committee.
A spokesman told the BBC
: "We confirm that on 19 March
the investigatory chamber of the independent ethics committee was informed by the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber, Hans-Joachim Eckert, about becoming recently aware of a business
relationship between the member of the adjudicatory chamber Juan Pedro Damiani, and Eugenio Figueredo Aguerre. "After receiving the information Dr. Cornel Borbely, chairman of
the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee, has immediately opened a preliminary investigation to review the allegations in question. Dr. Borbely is currently looking into said allegations in
order to determine if there is a breach against the FIFA code of ethics and decide any further measures."
The leaks are a distraction to FIFA, which would like to tell the story
that the scandals of the Blatter era are behind it under new president Gianni Infantino
. But they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Over the next few months and years, Swiss
authorities will release the results of their investigation into suspicious bank transactions linked to various FIFA scandals. Until now, those indicted by U.S. authorities were those who had ties to
the United States through transactions in U.S. banks or business activities on U.S. soil.
New names will counter the FIFA narrative that the scandals have been confined to the Americas
and Concacaf and Conmebol officials seeking personal gain from regional television and marketing deals.