Monday 23 July 2018

Gianni Infantino does not see police raid of UEFA headquarters as damaging

Fifa president Gianni Infantino Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Fifa president Gianni Infantino Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

Matt McGeehan

FIFA president Gianni Infantino says his determination to restore football's rotten reputation has been strengthened by the Panama Papers link which prompted police to raid UEFA headquarters.

Infantino on Tuesday night said he was "dismayed" and "will not accept" that his integrity is being doubted after documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca included a television rights contract bearing his signature.

The 46-year-old Swiss-Italian, in his former role as UEFA director of legal services, co-signed a television rights contract in 2006 with two businessmen who have since been caught up in football's corruption scandal.

The revelation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which is analysing 11million leaked files dubbed the Panama Papers, prompted the raid on UEFA's Nyon base.

Infantino and UEFA deny wrongdoing and pledged to co-operate fully with the investigation.

"If my determination to restore football's reputation was already very strong, it is now even stronger," Infantino said in a statement.

"I welcome any investigation conducted into this matter. It is in my interest and in the interest of football that everything should come to light."

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said the swoop, which was one of two which took place on Wednesday, was part of criminal proceedings directed against persons unknown.

A statement from the Swiss OAG said: "On April 6, 2016, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), within the scope of ongoing criminal proceedings, conducted a search on a co-operative basis for the collection of evidence at the headquarters of the UEFA and at another enterprise.

"The search was motivated by the suspicion of criminal mismanagement (Art. 158 of the Swiss Criminal Code / SCC) and, respectively, that of misappropriation (Art. 138 of the SCC).

"The OAG's criminal proceedings are in connection with the acquisition of television rights and are at present directed against persons unknown, meaning that for the time being, no specific individual is being targeted by these proceedings."

UEFA said in a statement: "UEFA can confirm that today we received a visit from the office of the Swiss Federal Police acting under a warrant and requesting sight of the contracts between UEFA and Cross Trading/Teleamazonas.

"Naturally, UEFA is providing the Federal Police with all relevant documents in our possession and will cooperate fully."

German publication Suddeutsche Zeitung obtained the Mossack Fonseca documents, with one showing Infantino in 2006 co-signed a contract on behalf of UEFA to sell television rights for the Champions League and other club competitions.

The deal was with two figures who have since been accused of bribery as part of the United States investigation into corruption at FIFA. Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis, his son, are currently under house arrest in Argentina.

Cross Trading, the Jinkis' Argentinian company which was registered in the South Pacific tax haven of Niue, bought the rights for US dollars 111,000 (now £78,780), according to ICIJ.

The rights were immediately sold the rights on to Ecuadorian broadcaster Teleamazonas for US dollars 311,170 (£220,800).

UEFA had initially denied doing business with any of the 14 individuals indicted by the FBI, but admits now its response was incomplete.

After a full review of thousands of commercial contracts, it accepts the deal was done as part of an "open tender" - a process conducted by Team Marketing on behalf of UEFA - and the rights were sold to the highest bidder.

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport