Fifa must investigate Infantino, urges Blatter

LAUSANNE • Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter called for an investigation into his successor Gianni Infantino, after Switzerland's attorney-general Michael Lauber admitted to meeting the current boss of world football's governing body.

While Lauber told journalists on Wednesday that his meetings with Infantino were "normal and regular, especially in complex cases" and he was disclosing the information for the sake of "transparency", Football Leaks claimed there was more to it.

The whistle-blowing website alleged that Infantino had offered favours to a senior Swiss prosecutor, Rinaldo Arnold, in a bid to foster a relationship with Lauber, possibly to obtain privileged information about the Fifa probe.

According to Football Leaks, the informal meetings occurred in the spring of 2016, a few months after Infantino took charge of Fifa and vowed to restore its credibility after the organisation was shaken by the corruption-plagued 17-year leadership of Blatter.

The body that oversees Lauber's office, known as the AS-MPC, told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday that while Lauber was not under investigation, it was examining the propriety of the meetings.

And Blatter reacted to the news by telling AFP: "The Fifa Ethics Committee... must do something and open an investigation into Mr Infantino.

"Where is the transparency preached by Mr Infantino during his election? He should report himself to the Ethics Committee to show that he is transparent."

He added: "Infantino met Mr Lauber several times, whereas I have been questioned by him just once since a procedure against me was opened in September 2015."

Switzerland has pursued some 25 individual cases since a raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich in May 2015 led to the arrests of a number of Fifa executives and exposed the corrupt underbelly of the sport.

In addition to Blatter, the high-profile targets of Swiss investigators include Fifa's former secretary-general Jerome Valcke and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the powerful Qatari national and media executive who is also the president of French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

None of the cases has moved to trial, but Lauber rejected criticism that his office was working slowly, noting that several of them could be closed next year or referred to court.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2018, with the headline 'Fifa must investigate Infantino, urges Blatter'. Print Edition | Subscribe