In an interview with Kicker, FIFA president Gianni Infantino stated his case against reports linking him to the ‘Panama Papers’ controversy. FIFA president Gianni Infantino has again insisted his is not guilty of any wrongdoing following reports linking him to the ‘Panama Papers’ leak.
Last week, widely released reports claimed that documents within the ‘Panama Papers’ – which have been leaked from law firm Mossack Fonseca to the international press – indicated that, during his time as UEFA’s director of legal services, Infantino signed off on a deal to sell South American broadcasting rights for the Champions League, UEFA Cup and Super Cup to a company called Cross Trading in 2006. The leaked papers allegedly show that Cross Trading subsequently sold these rights on at a significant mark up.
Two Argentinian businessmen apparently named in the papers as having been behind the Cross Trading deal have since been accused by US prosecutors of involvement in the corruption scandal that engulfed world football and eventually led to the departure of Infantino’s predecessor at FIFA, Sepp Blatter.
Infantino released a statement last Tuesday saying he was “dismayed” by questions over his integrity and the 46-year-old also welcomed Wednesday’s raid on UEFA’s Nyon headquarters by Swiss Federal Police. UEFA co-operated with the raid, which the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said was “motivated by the suspicion of criminal mismanagement and… misappropriation” in relation to ongoing criminal proceedings regarding “the acquisition of television rights… at present directed against persons unknown”.
In an interview with German publication Kicker, Infantino said: “The whole [rights-selling] process was correct and well documented. The way it has been presented is simply a disgrace. The agency’s marketing team had recommended that the highest of only two tenders received a contract for the ancillary rights. The contract was negotiated by the marketing team in detail and examined by two divisions of UEFA, which according to standard procedure, was signed by two UEFA directors. In this case, I was one of the two directors, but depending on availability, it could have been two other directors. If, after the contract was concluded, the rights-buyers carried out some unfair transactions, neither UEFA nor I had any personal influence over that.”
Infantino added that his integrity will be demonstrated “when all things are on the table”.