Hopes and expectations of FIFA reform under president Gianni Infantino
have taken another setback.
The Guardian reported
Infantino orchestrated the removal of the ethics committee chairman and
members last May while the committee was investigating Infantino for allegedly citing an inaccurate amount of money he spent on his election campaign.
The committee had already made
inquiries regarding his conduct in another matter: that he broke FIFA rules while trying to influence the election in March of Confederation of African Football president Ahmad Ahmad
Infantino said publicly he’d received 500,000 euros ($583,300) in support from UEFA to fund flights and other travel expenses while campaigning to replace former president Sepp
, who had been banned by the ethics committee from all FIFA activities in December 2015. The committee also banned his preferred successor, then-UEFA president Michel Platini.
FIFA rules require presidential candidates to disclose to the electoral committee accurate expenditures for their campaign. Candidates routinely travel around the world to drum up votes from
national soccer associations.
According to Guardian, sources within the electoral committee and other departments of UEFA, Infantino declared 500,000 euros to the committee but actually
received approximately 1 million euros in support.
A FIFA spokesman declined comment to the Guardian on whether Infantino was under investigation for the declaration of his election
expenditure when the committee chairmen were removed. The spokesman said it was “baseless speculations, unfortunately put forward for ill-intended purposes.” and FIFA said all funding and
expenses of Infantino's campaign have been done in "full conformity with all relevant regulations and also been audited accordingly."
The chair of the ethics committee’s
investigatory chamber, Cornel Borbely,
started an investigation into the discrepancy. Committee chairman Domenico Scala
urged public disclosure of Infantino’s budget by UEFA.
Infantino listed the 500,000-euros figure on his campaign website and cited it during interviews prior to the FIFA presidential election in February of last year.
The ethics committee
announced nearly a year ago that it had cleared Infantino of any wrongdoing by taking private jets on some of his trips, but he was apparently incensed any investigation was launched in the first
place and took out his anger during the FIFA Congress in Bahrain.
At the FIFA Congress in Bahrain two months ago, Infantino orchestrated the departure of Borbely. Also terminated were
the tenures of Hans-Joachim Eckert
, chair of the ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber; the governance committee chair, Miguel Maduro
; and other ethics committee members.
Infantino said he flew three times around the world during his campaign, starting in October 2015 as a provisional candidate when Blatter was suspended (and later banned). Infantino also staged
events, one of which -- at Wembley –-- included Jose Mourinho
and former soccer greats.
After being ousted, Borbely and Eckert said progress on cases that were worked on
would be impeded.