Fifa president Gianni Infantino has written to the Football Association to defend himself and the game’s governing body after a criminal investigation against him was launched in Switzerland. The investigation relates to a “secret meeting” between Infantino and Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber. Both men deny any wrongdoing and Infantino has written to member associations to explain things in a bid to quell any discontent. Elected in 2017 with a mandate to remove corruption and clean up Fifa’s tarnished reputation, the investigation is an embarrassment to Infantino. But rather than offer his resignation, the 50 year-old said in his letter that he intended to clear his name and issued a strong denial there was anything untoward in his meeting with Lauber. “As you have probably seen and heard in the media...” wrote Infantino in a letter seen by Telegraph Sport. “A Swiss Special Federal Public Prosecutor decided to open an investigation regarding certain meetings that I had, in my capacity as Fifa President, with the Swiss Attorney General, Michael Lauber. “... I would like to clearly and accurately explain the situation to you. As you know, when I was first elected thanks to all of you, Fifa President in 2017, our organisation, your organisation, was in a sorry state. “At that time, Fifa was involved as a damaged party in more than 20 legal proceedings in Switzerland alone, and was at risk of being designated a criminal organisation by the US authorities. “Naturally, in this environment, one of my first priorities, and part of my fiduciary responsibilities towards Fifa and of my moral obligations towards all of you, who had entrusted me with this mission, was to try to restore public trust in our institution as quickly as possible. “That is the broad background to the meetings that I had with the Attorney General of Switzerland. These meetings were in no way secret and most certainly not illegal. “In particular, I went to these meetings with the most senior law officer in the country in order to offer our full support and assistance in connection with the ongoing investigations, because Fifa has an interest and is a damaged party in these investigations. “And that is because we are still hoping, and we remain determined, that those who have committed criminal acts and have caused criminal damage to Fifa will finally be held to account for their actions. I attended those meetings, the details of which were arranged by the office of the Attorney General, in good faith and as a representative of Fifa, and also to take the opportunity to describe the sweeping changes that had been made at Fifa in terms of basic standards of corporate governance. “It is, obviously, also very clear that nothing even remotely illegal happened or could have happened at these meetings. The very thought of it is absurd. It goes without saying that the mere fact of meeting a state prosecutor ought to be the best guarantee that any such meeting is legitimate.” Infantino went on to add that the investigation was opened because anonymous complaints had been made. “Not knowing the content of those anonymous complaints, we can only speculate as to why they were filed and who is behind them. Hopefully, the facts will emerge one day. “Nevertheless, we also have to acknowledge that this development has already caused considerable damage to Fifa as an organisation and to myself as its President. This is despite the fact that the anonymous complaints have no merit whatsoever. In that regard, no serious elements or factual grounds for the opening of a criminal investigation have been presented and the matter was opened without even consulting Fifa or myself first in order to ask for an explanation. “For the sake of completeness, you should also be aware that there is an extremely low threshold under Swiss law for the opening of an investigation following the making of a complaint, even an anonymous one.” Infantino went on to highlight the fact that Fifa had co-operated fully with criminal investigations in the USA, where 40 convictions have been made. Infantino added: “At the same time, Fifa officials are working with the US Department of Justice in order to recover money that was seized by the US authorities in the course of their own criminal investigations, and to put that money back into football, which is where it ought to have gone in the first place.”
With the possibility of six months between NHL games, Joe Thornton might take his talents to Europe.
Criminal proceedings against FIFA President Gianni Infantino have been launched in Switzerland, it was announced today. A special prosecutor was appointed earlier month to investigate dealings between Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber and the head of football's world governing body. Lauber offered to resign last week after a Swiss Court concluded he covered up a meeting with Infantino and lied to supervisors while his office probed corruption surrounding FIFA.