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Swiss police raid UEFA headquarters to examine contract

The Panama Papers included a TV rights contract bearing the newly elected Fifa president’s signature.

FILE: Former Uefa Secretary-General Gianni Infantino. Picture: AFP.

ZURICH - Swiss police raided the headquarters of the European soccer body UEFA in Nyon on Wednesday to gather information about a contract signed by Gianni Infantino, now head of the global soccer body Fifa that was reported in the Panama Papers.

Media reports on Tuesday said that UEFA sold broadcast rights for 2006-09 Champions League matches to Argentine pair Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, owners of Cross Trading, who allegedly resold them to Ecuadorean broadcaster Teleamazonas for three times as much.

UEFA has confirmed that the Fifa president, who was working for UEFA at the time, was one of two of its officials who signed the contract. UEFA has denied any wrongdoing by itself or Infantino.

"UEFA can confirm that today we received a visit from the office of the Swiss Federal Police acting under a warrant and requesting sight of the contracts between UEFA and Cross Trading/Teleamazonas," UEFA said in a statement.

"Naturally, UEFA is providing the Federal Police with all relevant documents in our possession and will cooperate fully."

The Jinkis are among several dozen football officials who were last year indicted in the United States as part of a huge corruption scandal which has swept the game and thrown Fifa into turmoil.

Infantino was elected as Fifa president in February to try and lead the federation into a new, scandal-free era.

In a separate statement, UEFA denied suggestions in some media reports that the rights were sold at below the market price.

UEFA said the rights were sold to Teleamazonas after an "open, competitive, tender process" conducted by TEAM, its exclusive agent."

"We can also add that the offer made by Teleamazonas was very much the "going rate" for this category of rights in comparable markets in Latin and Central America," UEFA said in a statement to Reuters.

INFANTINO CALLS FOR TRANSPARENCY

In a statement released on Fifa's website, Infantino said he welcomed the investigation.

"If my determination to restore football's reputation was already very strong, it is now even stronger. I welcome any investigation conducted into this matter."

The Fifa head said it was essential that all the elements of the said dossier are disclosed, for the sake of transparency and clarity.

He added that he would cooperate with authorities.

"Should I be required to contribute to bringing further clarification on the matter, I will of course gladly do so. It is in my interest and in the interest of football that everything should come to light."