Infantino interfered in changes to FIFA ethics code - report

Der Spiegel said leaked emails showed Infantino, who replaced Blatter, was behind changes to the ethics code.

Uefa secretary general Gianni Infantino. Picture: AFP.

FIFA chief Gianni Infantino broke the world soccer body’s rules by interfering in the rewriting of its ethics code, German magazine Der Spiegel and European Investigative Collaborations, a network of international media, reported on Friday.

FIFA’s Ethics Committee, which banned and suspended dozens of officials including former FIFA president Sepp Blatter following a 2015 corruption scandal, is supposed to operate independently from soccer’s global governing body.

But Spiegel said leaked emails showed Swiss-Italian Infantino, who replaced Blatter, was behind changes to the ethics code which included a limitation period of 10 years on historical investigations into corruption and bribery.

A FIFA spokesperson on Friday said there was nothing untoward in Infantino’s correspondence with the soccer body’s chief ethics judge over the redrafting of the code.

The Spiegel report cites a December 2017 email to Infantino from Vassilios Skouris, who took over as FIFA’s chief ethics judge following Infantino’s election as president.

In the email Skouris sent draft changes to FIFA’s ethics rules to the FIFA chief which he had been working on with chief ethics investigator Colombian Maria Claudia Rojas, Spiegel said.

Spiegel said Infantino responded with a series of amendments after describing the new code as “really excellent”.

Among the complaints Infantino made in his reply, according to Spiegel, was that too many preliminary investigations had been launched against soccer officials.

“This provision has also been ‘misused’ in the past, especially mediatically (sic),” Infantino wrote, referring to media coverage of preliminary ethics investigations.

“It should be clear that even a preliminary investigation can only be carried out on the instructions of the chairman of the investigative chamber.”