Swiss police search Uefa HQ for Panama Papers deal

Fifa president Gianni Infantino maintains there is no indication of any wrongdoing over the broadcasting rights contracts.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino maintains there is no indication of any wrongdoing over the broadcasting rights contracts.

GENEVA • Swiss police yesterday searched Uefa's headquarters for contracts linked to a Champions League television rights deal revealed in the so-called Panama Papers, which involves Fifa's new president Gianni Infantino.

"Uefa can confirm that today we received a visit from the office of the Swiss Federal Police acting under a warrant," the European football confederation said in a statement sent to AFP.

It added that police requested "sight of the contracts between Uefa and Cross Trading (and) Teleamazonas," two of the companies involved in the sale of broadcast rights in Ecuador for the 2006 to 2009 Champions League finals.

 
 
 

Infantino was the head of Uefa's legal department at the time and signed the contracts.

On Tuesday, he released a statement through Fifa saying he was "dismayed that his integrity was being doubted" in media reports about the contract.

The reports from multiple news organisations, citing leaked documents, said the Swiss had signed off on a contract with two Argentinian businessmen, Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, who were later indicted in the United States.

Reuters could not determine if the contract Infantino signed was related to the conduct underlying the indictments.

The reports said he signed a contract with the pair for the broadcast rights to the Champions League in South America.

The duo, who owned Cross Trading, an Argentinian firm, allegedly sold the rights for a price almost three times higher to Teleamazonas, a broadcaster in Ecuador.

"I am dismayed and will not accept that my integrity is being doubted by certain areas of the media, especially given that Uefa has already disclosed in detail all facts regarding these contracts," Infantino, who was elected head of Fifa in February, said in a statement.

"Moreover, as the media themselves report, there is no indication whatsoever (of) any wrongdoings from neither Uefa nor myself in this matter," he added.

Uefa was also upset at the media reports, which it said were a slur on Infantino.

"There was never any suggestion that anything improper took place," it said, adding that the media had "misrepresented" the facts without elaborating.

It added that the broadcast rights in question "were awarded after an open tender conducted by Team Marketing (Uefa's broadcasting and marketing partner), acting on behalf of Uefa".

"The rights were awarded to Teleamazonas/Cross Trading because they made the highest offer on the market."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

More stories on the Panama Papers here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'Swiss police search Uefa HQ for Panama Papers deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe