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FIFA president

Infantino threatens action over damaging audio leak

New FIFA President Gianni Infantino has spoken out against the ethics committee chairman who recently resigned in protest and says he could file a criminal complaint over a leaked recording that damaged his reputation. 

In a conversation with the Le Matin Dimanche newspaper, Infantino said that “neither the president of FIFA nor the members of the FIFA Council influence the work of independent commissions”, referring to a controversial decision to allow the Council to appoint and remove members of such commissions. Domenica Scala, the former chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, resigned in mid-May over the decision, which he said would “deprive [the committee] of its independence”. 

On Sunday, Infantino, who is Swiss, had strong words for Scala, who he accused of thinking that “football can be directed according to the same management principles as a pharmaceutical company or a pesticide manufacturer”. 

Infantino explained the Council’s decision over appointing independent committee members by saying that “FIFA is still in a situation where internal or external investigations can be carried out by anyone at any time. I believe in active, not passive management”. 

Recordings obtained by Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper from a FIFA meeting in Mexico revealed that Scala’s departure had been widely sought and that Infantino had thought out numerous scenarios to make it happen. In response, Infantino said he reserves the right to file a criminal complaint for the theft of sensitive data, which he implied had been leaked by Scala. 

“I would like to know how minutes and recordings of Council meetings could end up in the papers,” he said. “I have a good idea”. 

The FIFA president also denied having turned down a CHF2 million ($2 million) salary package because he didn’t think it was enough. 

“My enemies want to make me look greedy, that’s stupid!” he said. “Everything I’ve earned in life is thanks to my hard work.” 

Infantino also said he had “a lot of respect” for professor and former FIFA reformer Mark Pieth, who has been an outspoken critic of the football governing body’s activities. However, he added “let’s not forget that it’s Mr. Pieth who suggested Scala for FIFA, so he’s obviously disappointed” in the state of affairs. 

When asked whether more skeletons would emerge from FIFA’s closet, Infantino said “anything could happen” but that “everyone needs to know that this is a new FIFA, determined to restore transparency and good governance to the organisation”.

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