Infantino opposed blocking Mutko
A fired FIFA official testified yesterday that he banned Vitaly Mutko from soccer’s ruling council after resisting strong pressure from the FIFA leadership, which warned the World Cup in Russia would be a “disaster” and Gianni Infantino’s presidency could be jeopardized. Miguel Maduro provided an account to British legislators of the pressures he endured from the FIFA hierarchy during less than a year chairing the governance committee before being abruptly removed from his post in May.
The biggest call of Maduro’s tenure was to prevent Mutko, a Russian deputy prime minister who is also head of the 2018 World Cup organizing committee, from seeking re-election to the FIFA Council on grounds of political interference.
“With the exception of that case in general, the president did not try to influence our decisions,” Maduro told the sports committee at the House of Commons. “He would transit to me sometimes those decisions were not well accepted but in that case there was an attempt to influence that decision.”
It came in March just as Russia was preparing to host a World Cup warm-up tournament, where Infantino met with Mutko and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “(Infantino) expressed concerns about the impact of the decision (to ban Mutko) on the World Cup,” Maduro said. “He was very clear about that.”
FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura went further to Maduro. “The secretary general made it clear to me that it was extremely problematic,” Maduro said. “More than that, she said we needed to find a solution to declare Mr. Mutko eligible because otherwise the presidency itself would be in question, the World Cup would be a disaster, that was her view, and the continued presidency of Mr. Infantino would also be in question.”
Mutko’s continued position of power within FIFA was also under scrutiny after he was directly implicated in the statesponsored doping scandal in Russia. Maduro said Infantino believes there is “no evidence” Mutko is involved in the Russian doping scandal.
The hearing at the British parliament began with committee chairman Damian Collins disclosing correspondence from FIFA blocking ousted investigator Cornel Borbely from taking questions from legislators.
Samoura wrote to Collins warning that Borbely is prevented from appearing at the digital, culture, media and sport committee because he is still bound by the FIFA ethics code and Swiss civil and criminal law. — AP