The global soccer governing body FIFA has called the decision of Swiss authorities to initiate criminal proceedings last week against its president Gianni Infantino absurd and grotesque. On Thursday, Swiss authorities said that proceedings against Infantino had been launched by a special prosecutor investigating meetings between the FIFA boss and the Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. Both Lauber and Infantino have denied engaging in any wrongdoing.
Alasdair Bell, FIFA deputy general secretary Alasdair Bell said at a news conference on Monday, "There is no factual basis whatsoever for this criminal investigation. There is no description of criminal conduct of any kind that has been communicated to FIFA. There is something a little grotesque and unfair in all this because we are 100% confident there will never be a criminal charge against the FIFA president."
Finding Indications fo Criminal Conduct
The AB-BA watchdog, which oversees the Attorney General's office (OAG), said Thursday that special prosecutor Stefan Keller had found indications of criminal conduct related to their meetings. Keller was appointed in June to review complaints against the two men and others.
"But we have a situation where, objectively, there is damage to both FIFA and the FIFA president simply because of the existence of this criminal investigation," added Bell. The proceedings concerned abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and "incitement to these acts," the complaints said.
"If someone opens a criminal investigation there needs to be a good reason and we don't have any reasons," said Bell. "We have some anonymous complaints but we don't know who made them."
Embroiled In Older Controversies
FIFA said that, at the time of the meetings held in 2016 and 2017, the OAG was conducting investigations in more than 20 cases related to a scandal in which FIFA became embroiled before Infantino was elected president in 2016.
"You go to the most senior law officer in the country to offer information for a criminal investigation and then you end up being a subject of a criminal investigation yourself," said Bell. "This is why we are saying there is something kind of absurd about this."
(With inputs from agencies)