Today he was re-elected for another term. There were no competitors.
On March 16, a FIFA congress was held in Rwanda. The organization's president, Gianni Infantino, was re-elected for a third term, which happened on a non-alternative basis for the second time. The shaven-headed Swiss is so influential and omnipotent that not one of the 7.8 billion people on the planet has dared to challenge him, which is terrible. No matter how beautifully Infantino sang about the progress of FIFA and the increase in profits, it has long been evident that the person who promised to overcome corruption in the organization after the removal of Sepp Blatter decided to lead it.
The main body of world football turned into a kleptocratic clan 50 years ago when the organization was headed by Joao Havelange, a corrupt official to the marrow of his bones. The Brazilian was persecuted in his homeland for selling weapons and other illegal transactions, but influential patrons helped him get out. Joao's followers at the helm of FIFA only reinforced the corruption that so permeated football at all levels that even the all-powerful FBI could not bring the scammers to clean water. Infantino took into account the mistakes of his predecessors, tightened the screws even more, and today he has absolute power.
Infantino sacks head of FIFA Governance Committee for refusing to allow Mutko to run
The primary tool of influence for all FIFA presidents is a feature of the electoral system, which consists of the fact that each national association has one vote. In such a situation, the reputable football federations of England, France, or Germany are no different from third-world countries, whose leaders are much easier to bribe, blackmail, and manipulate. For example, Blatter had a strong friendship with CONCACAF President Jack Warner, who controlled the heads of federations in the Caribbean with more than 30 votes. In Asia, Zepp was supported by the Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam. With the help of such connections, as well as the famous brown envelopes stuffed with banknotes, Blatter was easily re-elected for another term.
Infantino's approach is not much different - he still pays excellent attention to meetings with representatives of Uganda, the Philippines, and other small and highly corrupt countries. For example, the main reason for Gianni's trip to Indonesia last fall was a massive tragedy in that country. The use of tear gas by the police on the fans after the match "Arema" - "Persebaia" (2:3) led to the death of 174 people, including a 5-year-old child. However, instead of visiting the incident scene, the president had more important plans. The functionary played a friendly game with the federation officials, where he smiled and laughed. In high spirits, the next day, he also met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo. The hypocrisy of the highest level!
Such behavior for the president of FIFA is the norm. However, as well as the habit of lying and dodging. In 2017, Gianni was found guilty of misappropriation during a working trip to Suriname when he interrupted it and urgently returned to Switzerland on a private jet - the pleasure cost FIFA $ 130,000. "There was an urgent need to meet with the head of UEFA, Aleksander Čeferin," the president tried to get away with the organization's control body. The investigation found out that this was a lie since, on the days indicated by Infantino, Ceferin was on a working trip to Armenia. However, the FIFA ethics committee unexpectedly acquitted Gianni.
The reason for such impunity lies in the totalitarianism that reigns in FIFA. At the beginning of his first term, Infantino created the FIFA Governance Committee to monitor the work of the organization's employees for corruption with complete autonomy. The Portuguese judge, scientist, and politician Miguel Maduro was appointed head of the committee. Still, it soon became apparent that this was pure populism and profanity on the president's part.
Maduro, a specialist with an impeccable reputation and authority, thought he came to FIFA to eradicate corruption. Disappointment came over him less than six months later. The reason was the story of his re-election to the FIFA Executive Committee in 2017 of Vitaly Mutko, who needed to have the right to this due to being in a public position - Deputy Prime Minister of Russia. In addition, Mutko was implicated in a doping scandal involving Russian athletes' use of prohibited substances, allegedly at the level of state support. Therefore, Maduro did not allow Mutko to the elections, and all attempts by Infantino in private conversations with Miguel to change this decision did not produce results. What did Gianni do then? That's right, fired the opponent.
Gianni dug up and used compromising evidence against his boss Platini
In solidarity with Maduro, three of his colleagues have left the Governance Committee and been replaced by more loyal staff. The former chairman of the European Court, Vasilios Skouris, was appointed head of the committee - the German Die Welt found out that it was with him, and not with Čeferin, that Infantino met after flying on an expensive flight. He made another of his old acquaintances, Colombian Maria Rojas, the head of the investigative department of the ethics committee. Unsurprisingly, these people now dismiss any accusations of Gianni of uncleanliness.
Infantino spent a lot of unauthorized flights and meetings during his cadence. For example, in 2016, he flew to the Vatican to meet with the Pope in a USM Holdings private jet Dassault Falcon 7X, owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov. Gianni did not explain, as FIFA rules require, the reason for using the oligarch's board. The FIFA Ethics Committee found violations after the dismissal of the FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.
Infantino has done a great job of whitewashing his past. For example, the Football Leaks group, known for publishing secret documents and contracts, learned that Gianni destroyed the recording of a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in 2016 on the eve of his presidential election. He is charged with fraud and conspiracy to win the elections. In addition, Football Leaks published information about the suspicious arrival of Infantino in New York in 2015. It is believed that Gianni, who was then UEFA secretary, tried to influence the investigation into the sale of television and marketing rights, which he signed on behalf of the organization. In parallel, at this time, he was extracting non-public bank data on Blatter's two million dollar fee for Platini to eliminate both competitors.
To settle this case, the future FIFA president secretly met with Swiss federal prosecutor Michael Lauber - for this, a criminal case was opened against Gianni in 2020. A week ago, the functionary was partially acquitted precisely on the eve of the next FIFA presidential election. "Suspicions of bad faith or fraud have not been substantiated," two federal prosecutors, Hans Maurer and Ulrich Weder, said in a report. However, they stressed that the proceedings against Infantino and others suspected of breach of official secrecy, abuse of office, favoritism, and incitement had not yet been terminated.
Chief Investigator in Infantino Case Suspended
Initially, the Infantino case was handled by another prosecutor, Stefan Köller. He discovered that FIFA's control bodies condoned violations of electoral norms in national associations. However, when Koeller almost collected considerable evidence of dependent justice within FIFA, he was removed from the case with the wording "abuse of authority." An extraordinary situation that casts a shadow on the impeccable reputation of the Swiss prosecutor's office. On the other hand, nothing is surprising when you consider Infantino's crazy connections at all levels and the billions of dollars he manages.
Keller explained the dismissal: "Most commission judges that removed me are right-wing People's Party members. They were supposed to run for re-election to Parliament. And since the court was at the center of media criticism after various cases, any new problems would be a disaster. My investigation would have affected some of these judges. That's why they decided to remove me. I want to note that I was not given access to important documents and files during the investigation – there was systematic sabotage of my activities."
With such patronage, Gianni not only believed in impunity but also wanted more and more in terms of FIFA earnings. Of course, he does not forget his beloved one either - in February it became known that the presidential award for hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar amounted to € 1.66 million (four years ago Infantino received € 840 thousand for a similar tournament in Russia), and in total he last year he made €3.62 million in FIFA. Not surprisingly, at the recent parade in Cologne, Infantino was presented as a man with money sticking out of his ears, mouth, and other places.
With the opposition in FIFA, everything is unfortunate. Most of the current leaders of the federations owe a lot to Gianni, so they work on manual control - this is why Infantino has no opponents in the presidential elections. In the future, such a figure may be the former head of UEFA, Michel Platini, who would undoubtedly have led FIFA in 2016 without the corruption scandal. According to rumors, Infantino had a hand in "drowning" the former boss and Blatter. This was enough for Gianni to monopolize power, but in 2022 a Swiss court acquitted both defendants in the FIFA corruption investigation. And this means that Michel will want to take revenge and put the former clerk in his place.