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FIFA president Gianni Infantino subject of criminal proceedings

Gianni Infantino file photo
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is the subject of criminal proceedings over meetings he held with the Swiss attorney general.

A special federal public prosecutor, Stefan Keller, was appointed last month to examine complaints made in relation to the meetings involving Infantino, attorney general Michael Lauber and the chief public prosecutor for the Upper Valais region, Rinaldo Arnold.

Keller has now opened criminal proceedings against Infantino and Arnold, and has sought approval from the Swiss parliament to do the same against Lauber, who must have immunity from prosecution lifted before proceedings against him can be opened.

Keller has concluded there are “indications of criminal conduct” in connection to those meetings.

The statement, issued by the supervisory authority for the office of the attorney general (AB-BA) added: “This concerns abuse of public office (Article 312 of the Swiss Criminal Code), breach of official secrecy (Article 320 of the Swiss Criminal Code), assisting offenders (Article 305 of the Swiss Criminal Code) and incitement to these acts. Additional criminal acts and the commencement of further proceedings remain reserved.”

Gianni Infantino was elected FIFA president in 2016

Gianni Infantino was elected FIFA president in 2016 (Tim Goode/PA)

The statement concluded: “The presumption of innocence applies to attorney general Michael Lauber, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and chief public prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold.”

Lauber and Infantino met twice in 2016, the year Infantino was elected FIFA president. They met again in 2017.

Infantino was asked about the case at last month’s FIFA Council meeting and described the formal complaints against him as “absurd”.

“To meet with the head prosecutor or attorney general of Switzerland is perfectly legitimate and it’s perfectly legal,” he said.

Lauber was the subject of disciplinary action by the AB-BA earlier this year concerning the last of those meetings with Infantino, which he initially denied.

The probe also looked into Lauber’s handling of FIFA corruption allegations which predated Infantino’s election as president and which treats FIFA as a victim rather than a suspect.

The probe also criticised Lauber for failing to cooperate with its investigators.

FIFA said it acknowledged the decision of the prosecutor and that it and Infantino “remain at the disposal of the Swiss authorities and will, as we have always done, co-operate fully with this investigation”.

Infantino added: “People remember well where FIFA was as an institution back in 2015, and how substantial judicial intervention was actually required to help restore the credibility of the organisation.

“As president of FIFA, it has been my aim from day one, and it remains my aim, to assist the authorities with investigating past wrongdoings at FIFA.

“FIFA officials have met with prosecutors in other jurisdictions across the world for exactly these purposes.”