Probe into impropriety at Fifa could have cost duo's jobs

LAUSANNE • Fifa's ethics team had been investigating the role played by the organisation's president, Gianni Infantino, in the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) presidential elections before being removed from office, sources said on Monday.

Swiss prosecutor Cornel Borbely, who was chairman of the ethics committee's investigatory chamber, had opened an investigation into suggestions Infantino might have sought to influence the election of Madagascar's Ahmad Ahmad as president of CAF in March.

He and Hans-Joachim Eckert, the German former judge, were removed from their posts last month.

When asked by AFP on Monday, Fifa did not provide any reaction.

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The investigation stemmed from evidence provided by African representatives, a source close to Fifa said.

Several African witnesses had been set to travel to Fifa headquarters in Zurich, but at least one of them had their summons cancelled after Borbely was removed from his post, the same source said.

British newspaper The Guardian reported on Sunday that Infantino was being investigated for claims he had promised, along with Fifa general secretary Fatma Samoura, to accelerate payments of development money to national football associations if the presidents voted for Ahmad.

"It is an open secret that Infantino and Samoura did everything to get Ahmad elected," another source close to Fifa said.

The same source indicated that Infantino wanted to get rid of previous CAF chief Issa Hayatou, who had not backed the Swiss-Italian when he stood for the Fifa presidency in February last year.

Cameroon's Hayatou, 70, had been in the post for 29 years and was censured by the International Olympic Committee in 2011 for receiving money from ISL - the Swiss marketing firm in charge of rights for Fifa before going bust in 2001.

"The work in support of Ahmad was carried out by the Congolese Veron Monsengo, Infantino's Mister Africa," said the same source, adding that "it was prepared during a visit by Infantino to Zimbabwe".

That visit took place just before the CAF election.

Fifa announced their decision to remove Borbely and Eckert during the organisation's congress in Bahrain last month.

Borbely said the decision was "a setback in the fight against corruption" as there were "several hundred cases" of corruption pending.

They were replaced by Colombian magistrate Maria Claudia Rojas and ex-European Court of Justice president, Vassilios Skouris of Greece.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Probe into impropriety at Fifa could have cost duo's jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe