In­fantino ac­cused of ‘bad gov­er­nance’ at Fifa

For­mer com­mit­tee mem­ber tells MPs that pres­i­dent chose ‘po­lit­i­cal sur­vival’ over re­form

The Guardian - Sport - - Football - David Conn

The Fifa pres­i­dent, Gianni In­fantino, and sec­re­tary gen­eral, Fatma Samoura, were ac­cused of “vi­o­lat­ing the norms and stan­dards of good con­duct” by a gov­er­nance com­mit­tee mem­ber who re­signed, al­leg­ing they had im­prop­erly in­ter­fered with a de­ci­sion.

Navi Pil­lay, a renowned In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court judge and for­mer UN High Com­mis­sioner of Hu­man Rights, ac­cused In­fantino and Samoura of “un­due in­flu­ence” in her let­ter of res­ig­na­tion from the gov­er­nance com­mit­tee af­ter its chair­man Miguel Maduro was re­placed with­out no­tice in May. Maduro told the House of Com­mons se­lect com­mit­tee for cul­ture, me­dia and sport on Wed­nes­day that In­fantino and Samoura had in­ter­fered and pres­sured him to change a de­ci­sion to bar the Rus­sian deputy prime min­is­ter, Vi­taly Mutko, from stand­ing for the Fifa coun­cil.

Maduro said Samoura ar­gued the World Cup next year in Rus­sia would be “a dis­as­ter” if Mutko were ex­cluded and that as a con­se­quence In­fantino “feared for his pres­i­dency”. Maduro and the com­mit­tee main­tained their de­ci­sion that Fifa’s rules re­quir­ing po­lit­i­cal neu­tral­ity did not al­low a serv­ing min­is­ter to be on the coun­cil. He said in par­lia­ment that In­fantino had cho­sen “po­lit­i­cal sur­vival” as the Fifa pres­i­dent, in­stead of prop­erly main­tain­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s in­de­pen­dent re­form struc­tures fol­low­ing a del­uge of cor­rup­tion scan­dals.

In her res­ig­na­tion let­ter to Samoura, pub­lished by the par­lia­men­tary se­lect com­mit­tee yes­ter­day, Pil­lay wrote: “I wish to draw your at­ten­tion to the pro­hi­bi­tion, in the rules, of im­proper in­ter­fer­ence, ex­er­cise of in­flu­ence or pres­sure, and the need to dis­close th­ese ap­proaches, if we had been sub­jected to them, rather than main­tain­ing se­crecy.

“In com­pli­ance with this reg­u­la­tion, the facts of un­due in­flu­ence ex­erted on the Chair to change a rec­om­men­da­tion made by the [gov­er­nance com­mit­tee], were made known to me.”

Writ­ten on 17 May, a week af­ter the Fifa coun­cil sum­mar­ily ended the tenures of Maduro and the ethics com­mit­tee chair­men Cor­nel Bor­bely and Hans-Joachim Eck­ert, Pil­lay con­tin­ued in her let­ter: “As a judge and for­mer UN High Com­mis­sioner of Hu­man Rights, I ad­here to prin­ci­pled con­duct at all times; and can­not coun­te­nance serv­ing in an in­sti­tu­tion, whose of­fi­cials vi­o­late the norms and stan­dards of good con­duct, that they them­selves adopted.”

Her stri­dent crit­i­cism sup­ported that of Maduro, who ar­gues that Fifa has a “deeply em­bed­ded” cul­ture, de­rived from self-in­ter­est and lack of gov­er­nance, which makes it re­sis­tant to in­de­pen­dent scru­tiny, trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity.

Pil­lay con­cluded that she lacked con­fi­dence in the fu­ture gov­er­nance at Fifa, stat­ing: “I re­main con­cerned that the [gov­er­nance com­mit­tee]’s in­de­pen­dent func­tion­ing will not be re­spected.”

In a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion from her home in Dur­ban, Pil­lay told the Guardian: “You can­not just have re­form as rhetoric and carry on with the old ways. That is where the rots sets in, when you vi­o­late the rules your­self.”

An­other of three gov­er­nance com­mit­tee mem­bers who re­signed, the New York Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor Joseph Weiler, has com­plained to Fifa’s ethics com­mit­tee, al­leg­ing im­proper in­flu­ence by In­fantino and Samoura.

The English Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Fifa coun­cil, David Gill, ap­proved the re­place­ments of Maduro, Eck­ert and Bor­bely at the Fifa congress in Bahrain. He and the FA de­clined to com­ment fol­low­ing Maduro’s ev­i­dence in Lon­don.

Fifa re­sponded to Maduro’s ac­cu­sa­tions by say­ing it was “nor­mal” for of­fi­cials to be in reg­u­lar con­tact with him.

But Maduro said Fifa did not con­test that the ex­changes with Samoura and In­fantino had taken place, say­ing: “The fact that they don’t see any­thing wrong with what I por­trayed is the strong­est con­fir­ma­tion of how deeply em­bed­ded is the cul­ture I de­scribed. Gen­uine re­form will only come about from the out­side.” Ever­ton pro­duced an­other hugely dis­ap­point­ing dis­play as they were soundly beaten for the third suc­ces­sive game, this time Ata­lanta in­flict­ing the dam­age in their Europa League Group E opener in Reg­gio Emilia.

Ron­ald Koe­man’s mis­fir­ing team went into the match hav­ing en­dured a 2-0 de­feat at Chelsea and lost 3-0 at home against Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur. Koe­man, the Ever­ton man­ager, had warned they would “need to re­act” in Italy af­ter that last per­for­mance.

They were ab­ject once again here, how­ever, with their slop­pi­ness pun­ished by a dy­namic Ata­lanta side who scored three times in the first half through An­drea Masiello, the cap­tain Ale­jan­dro Gómez and Bryan Cris­tante.

While fail­ing to mount any­thing re­ally re­sem­bling a fight­back af­ter the break, Koe­man’s men at least man­aged to avoid con­ced­ing any fur­ther goals, although Remo Freuler’s shot did con­nect with their cross­bar.

Elis­a­betta Barac­chi/AP

Open­ing salvo An­drea Masiello beats Maarten Steke­len­burg to break the dead­lock af­ter 27 min­utes against Ever­ton in Reg­gio Emilia

In­fantino and David Trezeguet at a World Cup cer­e­mony in Moscow

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