Fifa – a friend, a good friend – sports


Fifa boss Gianni Infantino's posse and Swiss justice continue. In the relationship between association and jurisdiction hair-raising incongruities show up.

On Friday, Damian Graf, a special investigator in the canton of Valais, submitted his decision to adjudicate on internal criminal investigations against his colleague Rinaldo Arnold. The 20-page paper reveals how few high office-holders are to be feared by the Swiss justice system. And it traces the behavior of Gianni Infantino, the world's highest football official. But because the inconsistencies in the relationship between Fifa and the judiciary, which officially likes to claim that they have been investigating very hard in the corruption sumps around the World Association since 2015, are long hair-raising, here the real satire is written down, which is in great clarity from the new justice paper results.

Gianni Infantino was probably a lonely man. Hardly friends; well, except for the school friend Rinaldo, decades ago in the Valais hometown Brig. But soon he lost sight of him. Gianni made a steep career until the big goal opened: the Fifa throne. He pulled with funds from the European football union Uefa 2015 in the election battle, it happened in parallel: Gianni found the friend for life, Rinaldo Arnold.

Fifa VIP tickets for the senior prosecutor

VIP tickets for the senior prosecutor

Once again, memorable legal proceedings revolve around Gianni Infantino: Switzerland is appealing against a youth friend of the Fifa boss – with irritating justification.By Johannes Aumüller and Thomas Kistner

The boy from Brig was now senior prosecutor. But no, that did not matter for the abruptly blossomed friendship. Gianni simply liked him, so he invited him to Uefa meetings or gave him tickets for the Champions League final. As Fifa boss he was from February 2016, he reached even deeper into the gift box: Arnold jetted to the Fifa Congress in Mexico, where he helped Infantino, according to the law paper, over the separation pain of the absent family. At the World Cup in Russia Arnold received seven VIP tickets and adequate accommodation, the tickets being good enough for him to shoot a selfie with another lodge guest, Spain's King Felipe VI. All the friends' gifts added up to around 20,000 francs, not including the VIP cards, to which experts alone attribute a five-digit total value.

Nevertheless, the friends were missing the closeness. So it was a good thing that Fifa wanted to fill a position worth 75,000 francs per year in its arbitration board. For this Arnold was chosen, whose reputation as an ideal cast had penetrated as far as Fifa – and certainly without the help of friend Infantino! Or? Fifa does not want to answer this question.

Nothing came of the appeal, in the autumn of 2018 the press intervened. The discrete Amigo relationship, to which Arnold had proficiently contributed, flew open and suddenly brought the Bernese judiciary into twilight. The federal official, who for years had conducted the corruption investigations of the Federal Prosecutor's Office (BA) in the Fifa complex, had to go. The Valais judiciary also worried about the role of its chief prosecutor. She pushed the internal investigation under Damian Graf.

Because the generously gifted Arnold had done a lot of good for Infantino. Immediately after the throne he arranged two meetings for the Fifa boss, which, according to compliance experts, does not receive a normal citizen: with attorney Michael Lauber. Lauber's men were already investigating the Fifa, they had even infested Infantino's former workplace, the Uefa, and opened a lawsuit against Unknown: for a sinister TV deal that bore Infantino's signature. Arnold also asked the BA for a positive press release per Infantino. That was too much even Bern. In the autumn of 2018, Lauber publicly admitted two meetings with Infantino, but he insisted that these had been the usual “coordination meetings”. Why they were neither logged nor held in the office, why Arnold was present, explained Lauber not. The man, who wants to be re-elected as chief prosecutor in Switzerland in June, found it all okay and explained that even the supervisory authority for the BA had only complained of not recording the meeting.

Sports (t) Fifa (t) Gianni Infantino (t) Süddeutsche Zeitung Sports (t) Sports (t) Süddeutsche Zeitung (t) SZ


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