And hop, they see me, they see me more. - HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP
An investigation against Fifa President Gianni Infantino has been opened in connection with the sprawling Fifagate corruption case, Swiss justice announced in a statement on Thursday. The extraordinary federal prosecutor "opens criminal proceedings against the president of Fifa Gianni Infantino and the first prosecutor of Haut-Valais Rinaldo Arnold", in particular for "abuse of authority", "violation of official secrecy" and "obstruction of the 'criminal action'.
The extraordinary prosecutor Stefan Keller was appointed at the beginning of July by the Swiss Public Prosecutor's Office (AS-MPC) to examine criminal complaints against Attorney General Michael Lauber and the President of Fifa. This announcement comes a week after the resignation of the head of the Swiss prosecution, blamed for his management of Fifagate and suspected of collusion with the boss of Fifa.
When Fifa spoke of "farce"
Lauber and Infantino have indeed met informally on several occasions in 2016 and 2017, raising questions about a possible collusion. After examining the case, Stefan Keller finally asked for Mr Lauber's immunity to be waived so that he could also be able to initiate proceedings against him. He concluded that there was in this case "elements of reprehensible behavior".
Football Leaks: Under pressure, the Swiss prosecutor justifies his meetings with Infantino https://t.co/CVb0n46I93 via @ 20minutesSport pic.twitter.com/kZXEZeQIfY- 20 Minutes Sport (@ 20minutesSport) November 21, 2018
For its part, if Fifa has not denied that meetings did take place between the two men, it did however qualify the complaint against its president as a "farce". "The motivation of Gianni Infantino was to offer the Swiss authorities all possible help so that those who have stolen millions from FIFA and discredited it are brought to justice", declared in this capacity at the beginning of June the legal director of the Emilio Garcia instance. Obviously, Swiss justice does not seem to find it funny.
As a reminder, Fifagate began with the Zurich police raid against Fifa officials at the Baur au Lac hotel in 2015. On that date, the organization was chaired by Sepp Blatter. Some 45 natural and legal persons have been indicted to date by the American justice in Fifagate, having uncovered a vast system of corruption, which undermined especially the federations of the American continent. In Switzerland, more than twenty procedures concerning Fifa have been opened for five years.
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- Gianni Infantino