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FIFA defend President Infantino amid criminal investigation

FIFA has stated that Gianni Infantino will continue his duties as the world football governing body President despite ongoing criminal proceedings against him. 

Last Thursday, an investigation against Infantino began over secret meetings with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. Footballs world governing body said the meetings were “routine”, declaring that “nothing remotely criminal has happened”, while both Infantino and Lauber deny any wrongdoing.

FIFA have said, "There was and is absolutely no reason to open any investigation,"

"There is nothing at all to suggest any form of criminal wrongdoing."

Demands for Infantino to be suspended during the investigation have engulfed FIFA’s ethics committee, as it’s not the first time FIFA have experienced criminality involved with a committee member. Fellow president, Sepp Blatter was impeached in 2015 receiving a ban from world football until 2021.

According to the governing body, the meetings were not held in secret but in public spaces, such as hotels and restaurants. FIFA add, "At the time of the meetings between the FIFA president and the Swiss federal prosecutor, the OAG was conducting investigations in over 20 cases in FIFA-related matters, and FIFA is a damaged party in those proceedings. It was therefore entirely logical for the FIFA president to be meeting the Swiss federal prosecutor.”

"The purpose was always to offer FIFA’s full support in the investigations. The FIFA president and FIFA officials went to see the most senior law officer in the country to describe the changes that had been made at FIFA and offered co-operation in prosecuting criminal wrongdoing.”

"The FIFA president went there in good faith and as a representative of FIFA."

In addition, FIFA claim that special prosecutor, Stefan Keller, who opened the investigation against the current president, “Presented no serious elements or legal basis for the opening of any investigation and lacks any detail as to the substance of the case.”

Football’s world governing body insist that Infantino was intending to "Restore trust in the institution", following previous corruption scandals. For that reason, “Will continue to fully assume his functions within FIFA and fulfil his duties and will continue to cooperate with the authorities in Switzerland and around the world.”

Previous president, Blatter, argues that Infantino should be suspended during the investigation saying, “For me, the situation is clear, that the FIFA ethics committee has to open a case against Mr Infantino and so it has to suspend him,”

If suspended, FIFA’s senior vice president, who got pipped to the post in 2016 by Infantino, Sheikh Salman, will become the interim leader.

Author: James Parker