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Football Leaks Prosecutor to investigate FIFA president’s ties to Valais attorney

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (right) and Rinaldo Arnold, senior prosecutor for the Upper Valais,

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (right) and Rinaldo Arnold, senior prosecutor for the Upper Valais, during a friendly football match at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, on February 29, 2016

(Keystone)

The Valais Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into claims that a Valais prosecutor facilitated contacts between Gianni Infantino, president of football’s world governing body FIFA and the Swiss attorney general, Michael Lauber. 

The Valais office has appointed a special prosecutor to shed light on the close relationship between the Valais prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold and Infantino and claims made by the Football Leaks investigative journalism teamexternal link published last week.

News reportsexternal link said Arnold had received invitations to World Cup matches in Russia in 2018, to a FIFA Congress in Mexico in May 2016 and to the Champions League Final in Milan.

The Football Leaks investigative team also alleged Arnold helped Infantino arrange secret meetings in 2016 with Lauber, whose office is investigating numerous cases of alleged corruption against FIFA. Arnold says he simply maintains a private relationship with the FIFA president. 

Zurich-based FIFA, for its part, insists there has never been any impropriety in its dealings with the attorney general’s office. However, Swiss parliamentarian Hans Stöckli, told Swiss public television, RTS, at the weekend that he would raise the issue with a committee that has oversight over the activities of the attorney general.

Lauber’s prosecutors are reportedly leading 25 separate investigations of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup bidding. Earlier this year, Lauber told reporters that he did not know when the investigations into FIFA would be done, but suggested they could still take years. 

Keystone SDA/sb

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