Monday 24 October 2016

FIFA president Gianni Infantino "dismayed" by media reports over leaked documents

Published 06/04/2016 | 08:56

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has defended his reputation (AP)
Fifa president Gianni Infantino has defended his reputation (AP)

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is "dismayed" and "will not accept" that his integrity is being doubted, in relation to documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

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Infantino, in his former role as UEFA director of legal services, reportedly signed off a television contract in 2006 with two businessmen who have since been caught up in football's corruption scandal.

Both he and UEFA issued statements on Tuesday evening, the Swiss unhappy with the media's portrayal of the situation and insisting the European governing body had already "disclosed in detail all facts regarding these contracts".

Infantino said: "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.

"From the moment I was made aware of the latest media enquiries on the matter, I immediately contacted UEFA to seek clarity. I did this because I am no longer with UEFA, and it is they who exclusively possess all contractual information relating to this query. In the meantime, UEFA has announced that it has been conducting a review of its numerous commercial contracts and has answered extensively all media questions related to these specific contracts."

Infantino was reportedly involved in concluding a deal for Champions League football broadcast rights in Ecuador during 2006 with businessmen Hugo and Mariano Jinkis. The contract was also co-signed by another UEFA director, as is standard practice.

Among the 11 million documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, it is claimed the rights were immediately sold on by the South American duo - owners of offshore company Cross Trading - for almost three times the price.

The leaked documents were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.

Like Infantino, UEFA also expressed its dismay at suggestions of any wrongdoing - before accusing the media of misleading the public with such talk.

Its statement read: "UEFA is dismayed by certain stories in the media suggesting that there might have been untoward or improper conduct in connection with a television rights contract concluded with a company based in Ecuador in 2006.

"For the record, and as repeatedly explained to the media, there was never any suggestion that anything improper took place. These explanations have been conveyed to the media in a clear, reasonable, and perfectly transparent way. It is therefore all the more regrettable that, despite the explanations given, some sections of the media have chosen to misrepresent matters and mislead the public by suggesting or implying otherwise.

"It is correct that UEFA was asked some time ago whether it had any commercial dealings with certain companies and/or individuals named in the US indictment. At the time of our initial response we had not had the opportunity to check each and every one of our (thousands) of commercial contracts and so the answer given was initially incomplete.

"That is the reason why Gianni Infantino initially thought, based on the information provided by UEFA, that there had been no previous UEFA contracts with any companies and/or individuals named in the indictment. That is also why FIFA gave this information to the media.

"We have now had the opportunity to conduct a full review of our commercial contracts and, as regards this particular TV contract in Ecuador dating back to 2006, it should be pointed out that rights in question were awarded after an open tender conducted by TEAM Marketing, acting on behalf of UEFA. The rights were awarded to Teleamazonas/Cross Trading because they made the highest offer on the market."

Infantino added in his statement: "As I previously stated, I never personally dealt with Cross Trading nor their owners as the tender process was conducted by Team Marketing on behalf of UEFA.

"I would like to state for the record that neither UEFA nor I have ever been contacted by any authorities in relation to these particular contracts.

"Moreover, as media themselves report, there is no indication whatsoever for any wrongdoings from neither UEFA nor myself in this matter."

UEFA continued: "For the record, neither UEFA nor Gianni Infantino have ever been contacted by any authorities in connection with this particular contract. Of course, if UEFA is contacted for any reason then it will be more than happy to cooperate.

"Furthermore, and given the way in which this story has been misrepresented in the media, UEFA wishes to go on record with the statement that Gianni Infantino has been an outstanding member of UEFA staff for many years, a man who has always acted with complete professionalism and integrity, and that this attempted slur on his character and on the reputation of UEFA, based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever, is not only a sad day for football but also a sad day for journalism."

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