In­fantino cleared in ethics probe

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

FIFA Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino, elected in Fe­bru­ary to lead the global soc­cer body into calmer wa­ters af­ter a se­ries of cor­rup­tion scan­dals, was him­self cleared of pos­si­ble ethics vi­o­la­tions yes­ter­day.

Fifa’s in­de­pen­dent ethics com­mit­tee said it had con­cluded a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into In­fantino’s con­duct which fo­cused on some of the flights he had taken dur­ing the open­ing months of his pres­i­dency and his fail­ure to sign an em­ploy­ment con­tract.

“It was found that no vi­o­la­tion of the Fifa Code of Ethics (FCE) had been com­mit­ted by Mr In­fantino,” the ethics com­mit­tee said in a state­ment.

It said in­ves­ti­ga­tions were car­ried out “dili­gently over sev­eral weeks” and in­cluded “a large num­ber of in­ter­views with wit­nesses and Mr In­fantino him­self.”

In­fantino, in a state­ment is­sued by Fifa, said he was “pleased” with the out­come.

Ger­man me­dia have been re­port­ing for sev­eral weeks that In­fantino, whose pre­de­ces­sor Sepp Blat­ter has been banned for six years for ethics vi­o­la­tions, was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion over flights he had taken on pri­vate jets.

Fifa has been in tur­moil af­ter a wave of in­dict­ments of foot­ball of­fi­cials in the United States last year, in­clud­ing former mem­bers of its ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, on cor­rup­tion­re­lated charges.

The foot­ball body has also been forced to in­ves­ti­gate con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing the award­ing of its show­piece, the World Cup fi­nals, es­pe­cially the de­ci­sion to grant the 2018 tour­na­ment to Rus­sia and the 2022 fi­nals to Qatar.

Blat­ter was banned by Fifa’s own ethics com­mit­tee along with former Euro­pean soc­cer boss Michel Pla­tini, who is serv­ing a four-year sus­pen­sion.

The ethics com­mit­tee said that pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions had fo­cused on sev­eral flights taken by In­fantino, the hir­ing process for po­si­tions in the pres­i­dent’s of­fice and his re­fusal to sign the con­tract spec­i­fy­ing his em­ploy­ment re­la­tion­ship with Fifa.

In­fantino’s con­duct might have breached ar­ti­cles on code of con­duct, loy­alty, con­flicts of in­ter­est and of­fer­ing and ac­cept­ing gifts, it said.

How­ever, af­ter for­mal pro­ceed­ings were opened, it was con­cluded that the flights “did not rep­re­sent ethics vi­o­la­tions” and that ben­e­fits en­joyed by In­fantino were not “im­proper” in the light of ap­pli­ca­ble Fifa rules and reg­u­la­tions.

It said the hir­ing process and In­fantino’s em­ploy­ment con­tract were in­ter­nal com­pli­ance is­sues rather than eth­i­cal mat­ters.

Fifa’s state­ment said In­fantino and his ad­min­is­tra­tion would “con­tinue to fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing foot­ball as well as their ef­forts to im­prove the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

“This crit­i­cal work will con­tinue,” it said. — Reuters.

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