Friday 21 October 2016

Fifa president Infantino defends reputation amid Panama Papers leak

Published 06/04/2016 | 00:11

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

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has defended his reputation after reports that he signed a Champions League broadcasting contract in 2006 with an offshore-registered marketing agency implicated last year in the Fifa bribery scandal.

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The contract, which Mr Infantino co-signed as European football body Uefa's then-legal director, was leaked from the database of a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, the Guardian and the BBC reported.

Mr Infantino, who was elected to the head of the world football governing body Fifa just six weeks ago, said: "I am dismayed and will not accept that my integrity is being doubted by certain areas of the media."

The Uefa contract reportedly co-signed by Mr Infantino sealed a three-year deal for TV rights in Ecuador for the Champions League to Cross Trading.

That company is a subsidiary of a group owned by Argentine marketing executives Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, who were indicted last year by American federal prosecutors investigating a bribery and money laundering conspiracy in international football.

Mr Infantino said he "never personally dealt with Cross Trading nor their owners" in a tender process conducted by an agency retained by Uefa.

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

According to reports, Cross Trading paid 111,000 US dollars (£80,000) for the rights and sold them for a 200,000 dollar (£140,000) profit to the Teleamazonas channel. There was no suggestion bribes or kickbacks were paid at any stage of the deals.

"The rights were awarded to Teleamazonas/Cross Trading because they made the highest offer on the market," Uefa said in a separate statement.

However, Uefa did acknowledge it gave inaccurate information last year when stating it had no commercial dealings with people and companies indicted in the United States federal case.

Uefa said: "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."

Mr Infantino and Uefa separately said they have not have not been contacted by law enforcement authorities about their past dealings with the Jinkis family's agency. The father and son are fighting extradition from Argentina to the United States.

"Of course, if Uefa is contacted for any reason then it will be more than happy to cooperate," European football's governing body said.

Press Association

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