Madrid, Aug 2 (EFE) .- FIFA has released this Sunday an extensive statement, in response to the criminal investigation opened by the extraordinary federal prosecutor of Switzerland, Stefan Keller, against its president, Giani Infantino, in which he assures that “There was and absolutely is no reason to initiate an investigation, because nothing criminal or remotely happened.”
The criminal investigation opened by Stefan Keller, whose opening was known last Thursday, is related to a meeting that Infantino had with the previous attorney general, who was investigating a corruption plot in football and who resigned last Friday, July 24.
Thus, FIFA states that “there was and is absolutely no reason to initiate an investigation, because nothing criminal or remotely occurred. There is no concrete evidence whatsoever of any type of criminal offense.”
In addition, he believes that meeting with a prosecutor “of course is not illegal.” “It is not illegal anywhere in the world,” he adds.
“At the time of the meetings between the FIFA President and the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, the Swiss Attorney General’s Office (OAG) was conducting investigations into more than 20 cases related to the FIFA, and FIFA is considered a disadvantaged party in these processes. Therefore, it was entirely logical that the President of FIFA should meet with the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, “he says.
About the meeting, he explains that “meetings or contacts between the parties and prosecutors are common practice during an investigation.”
“FIFA’s chief legal adviser and OAG principal investigator also met regularly on several occasions. Such meetings were held around the world, leading, for example, to more than 40 convictions in the United States,” points out.
The world football governing body reports in the note that “the purpose” of the meeting “was at all times to offer FIFA’s full support for the investigations.”
“The FIFA President and FIFA officials went to see the highest-ranking judge in the country to describe the changes that had taken place in FIFA, and offered their cooperation to prosecute criminal acts. The President FIFA attended there in good faith and as a representative of FIFA. This is also part of his fiduciary duties as President of FIFA, “he says.
“At that time, FIFA was trying to restore confidence in the institution. When the first meeting took place, Gianni Infantino had only been President of FIFA for 24 days. FIFA was in a disastrous situation, and was at risk of Being declared a criminal organization by the US authorities. In this toxic environment, relations between FIFA and the OAG were just one of the many pressing issues that the President of FIFA had to deal with, “he says.
And he further notes that “the FIFA President also wished to explain the concrete measures being taken to establish good governance within FIFA. From the first day of his term, the President of FIFA has sought to improve standards of governance in FIFA as well as assisting authorities in investigations into criminal acts committed in FIFA in the past. FIFA officials have met with prosecutors in other jurisdictions around the world for exactly the same purposes ” .
FIFA adds that these meetings were not secret “in any way”. “The OAG organized the meetings in public places, such as hotels and restaurants. The FIFA President did not choose the meeting locations. All the meetings were officially scheduled by the OAG well in advance, and appeared on their agendas,” he says.
“No FIFA regulation or law requires the FIFA President to keep minutes of such meetings,” he said.
Regarding the reasons for the opening of this investigation by Stefan Keller, FIFA says: “Firstly, Stefan Keller has not presented any evident element or any legal basis to justify the opening of an investigation. Nor does he have any details that get to the bottom of the matter. Also, the investigation was opened without even consulting the FIFA President first, in order to ask for an explanation. “
“FIFA has not had access to Stefan Keller’s file, although it appears that the anonymous complaints that led him to open his investigation have been distributed to the media,” he added.
“For the record, FIFA and the President of FIFA categorically deny any suggestion or allusion that the President of FIFA would have ever attempted to exert any kind of undue influence on the Swiss Federal Prosecutor. Meeting with a prosecutor is the best guarantee that such a meeting is legitimate, because if there were to be the slightest indication of an improper act, a prosecutor should intervene, and would intervene immediately to report it. For him, this is a legal and professional obligation, “he insists. the organism.
FIFA further recalls that “these meetings were already investigated by another special prosecutor in connection with an investigation into Rinaldo Arnold. That investigation was closed and no charges were brought at any time.”
“The meetings were also examined by the OAG Supervisory Authority in the context of a disciplinary proceeding against the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, and no criminal proceedings arose from that, either. Consequently, the Swiss federal and cantonal authorities have already examined precisely the same facts, and none of them has concluded that there was any reason to open an ex officio criminal investigation, “continues FIFA.
FIFA also claims that the FIFA President “already explained the background to the meetings during the investigation against Rinaldo Arnold mentioned above and that it was closed without charge. On that same occasion, FIFA disclosed all the information available to it regarding to those meetings, including all relevant correspondence. “
“In addition, the FIFA President provided further details on the meetings in a letter sent to the President of the OAG Supervisory Authority,” he comments.
He also wants to clarify that the FIFA President “never denied the existence of any meeting.”
Insisting on the reasons for the opening of this new investigation, FIFA says: “basically because anonymous complaints were filed in the canton of Bern.
“Not knowing the content of these complaints, we can only speculate on the reasons why they were presented, but objectively they have caused considerable damage to FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, despite the fact that they have no basis,” he says.
“Finally, it should be noted that Swiss law provides for an extremely low threshold for the opening of an investigation as a result of any complaint, even if it is anonymous,” clarifies FIFA.
Regarding the FIFA Ethics Committee, it states: “The Ethics Committee is an independent body of FIFA, and will carry out its work independently. In general, the Ethics Committee does not rule on the ongoing procedures, current or potential “
In conclusion, he points out that the President “will continue to fully exercise his functions within FIFA and assume his responsibilities. At the same time, he will continue to cooperate with the authorities in Switzerland and around the world.”
Swiss Federal Prosecutor Stefan Keller opened a criminal investigation against FIFA President Giani Infantino last Thursday, July 30, in connection with a meeting he held with the previous attorney general, who was investigating a plot of corruption in football and resigned last Friday.
Former Attorney General Michael Lauber had launched an extensive investigation into football corruption, which involved FIFA, which has its headquarters in the Swiss city of Zurich.
Keller believes that various crimes could have been committed, including abuse of power, violation of the secrecy to which public officials are bound, assistance to offenders and incitement to such acts.
Lauber and Infantino met in mid-2017 in Bern, but both later said they did not recall that conversation.
A federal court last Friday upheld a false accusation against Lauber, who shortly after announced his resignation.
Keller also asked Parliament on Thursday to lift Lauber’s immunity to investigate him in the same way as the rest of those involved.
Former FIFA presidents Sepp Blater and UEFA’s Michel Platini are also part of the investigations into football corruption that started in 2014.
The entity that oversees the Swiss Attorney General’s Office recalled that the presumption of innocence applies in all cases.
(c) EFE Agency