FIFA finally puts Infantino salary dispute and his 'dirty laundry' behind it

Deadline day across much of Europe overshadowed some other contract news on the soccer front. Gianni Infantino, FIFA's new Swiss president, finally agreed to the salary terms of his contract.

Soon after he was elected as Sepp Blatter's successor in February, talks Infantino had over the salary stalled as he termed "insulting" the offer of $2 million a year he received from FIFA's compensation committee.

Domenico Scala, FIFA's audit and compliance committee chairman and in-house reform champion, was negotiating Infantino's employment agreement and soon quit, in a dispute over Infantino's push to allow the new FIFA Council to fire Scala and others on FIFA's supposed independent committees -- the audit and compliance committee and two chambers of the ethics committee.

An audio tape surfaced of the FIFA Council in Mexico City, where Infantino complained about not being allowed to have FIFA pay for his shirt, socks and underpants to be cleaned. The disputes had a devastating effect on Infantino's reform narrative.

What Scala's original offer was and what Infantino finally agreed to are not comparing apples to apples, but FIFA reported that Infantino has agreed an annual salary of 1.5 million Swiss francs ($1.53 million), less than the "insulting" Scala offer. FIFA added that Infantino's annual compensation package represents less than 25 percent of Blatter’s average compensation, including bonuses, for 2010-2015.

Infantino will also get a "car and lodging free of charge during his term and contribution to expenses in accordance with FIFA’s expenses regulations," FIFA said in a statement that would seem to take care of Infantino's laundry bills.

The key difference in the two offers: Scala's offer included no bonuses -- which boosted the compensation of Blatter and other key executives from the previous regime -- in contrast to what Infantino settled upon. But there will be no bonus in 2016 as the bonus system was open to "dysfunction and abuse" and needed to be reformed, FIFA said.

"Bonus payments from 2017 onwards," FIFA's statement added, "will be awarded in accordance with objective criteria related to FIFA’s mission and operations as well as the outcome of the organizational reforms, now being implemented."

New FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura will be paid 1.3 million Swiss francs per year ($1.35 million), plus the same benefits as Infantino, FIFA said. The original goal was to make Samoura -- FIFA's first female secretary general -- the organization's highest paid employee in keeping with her role as the de facto CEO.

This is a matter that should have never escalated or been drawn out. It created the impression that it was business as usual at FIFA and was more interested in its "dirty laundry" -- literally -- than the task of tackling reforms and addressing the needs of players, coaches and fans around the world.
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