Period of turbulence in sight for Gianni Infantino: the return of the President of Fifa promises to be agitated between the consequences of the criminal proceedings against him, the virtual FIFA congress and the Nasser Al-Khelaïfi / Valcke trial in Switzerland.
Elected in February 2016 on a reform program, at the end of an unprecedented corruption crisis, the one who promised a "new" Fifa is in turn caught by the courts.
Since July 30, Infantino has been the subject of criminal proceedings in Switzerland, the extraordinary federal prosecutor considering that there are "elements of reprehensible behavior in connection with the meeting between the Attorney General Michael Lauber, the president of the Fifa and the first prosecutor of Haut-Valais ", Rinaldo Arnold, childhood friend of Mr. Infantino.
The possible offenses mentioned in the file are "incitement to abuse of authority", "violation of official secrecy" and "obstruction of criminal proceedings".
If the criminal proceedings could speed up, with a probable summons of Infantino by prosecutor Keller, the internal justice of Fifa is under pressure.
In September 2015, the ethics committee opened an investigation targeting Sepp Blatter, then FIFA president, and Michel Platini, for a suspicious payment from the first to the second, just a few days after the opening of criminal proceedings against the Valais. The two men were then suspended temporarily for 90 days, before a final suspension of several years.
The Ethics Commission "should immediately open an investigation and disclose it as they did against me," Blatter told AFP.
But this commission "is not independent", denounces the former boss of Fifa, for whom Infantino, who believes himself "untouchable", has in addition "locked the control bodies and it is very worrying".
- Infantino on the offensive -
Going on the offensive, Infantino repeats it tirelessly: "No tangible element or factual basis" comes to support this criminal procedure, according to him.
Since July 30, through the voice of its deputy secretary general Alasdair Bell, already present at his side at UEFA, then in a letter addressed to the federations and to each of the 36 members of the Council, Italo-Switzerland shows that for him "the best defense is the attack", analyzes a good expert of the instance.
For another familiar with Fifa, "there is no strategy. It is a reaction of nervousness, impatience in front of the slowness of justice concerning the other procedures".
For the Swiss criminal law professor Mark Pieth, questioned by in a recent very offensive press release from Fifa, the international federation "is in a state of panic". "I do not know if she is panicking, adds this good connoisseur of Fifa. But there is a disinhibition and a tone that question from people who say they are however also serene. Without doubt it is to protect themselves from a possible unfavorable result. "
- 70th virtual congress -
Infantino, who assured from August 2 that he would remain in office despite the procedure, has since maintained dialogue with the federations, via virtual meetings which replace the "annual summits" and which are particularly devoted to the methods of distribution of enormous aid emergency Covid, totaling $ 1.5 billion (€ 1.27 billion).
Also a way to prepare for the next congress, during which he is unlikely to have to explain the procedure in progress. Initially scheduled for June in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) but postponed to September 18 due to the coronavirus crisis, the 70th Congress will indeed be held by videoconference.
Before that, the federation based in Zurich will have its eyes fixed on Bellinzona (Switzerland), where the French Jérôme Valcke, ex-right arm of Blatter, and representative of "old Fifa", must be judged from September 14 by the federal criminal court for "aggravated unfair management" and "passive corruption" in connection with the granting to BeIN Media of the rights to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
Qatari Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, president of Paris-SG and leader of BeIN, must appear for "instigation of unfair management" in the same procedure.
An "amicable" agreement with Fifa, announced at the end of January, allowed the abandonment of the head of "active and passive corruption" against Qatari.
© 2020 AFP