LAUSANNE, April 28: FIFA president Gianni Infantino is suspected of having intervened with Switzerland�s attorney general to try to get an investigation dropped, a Swiss newspaper alleged.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) launched an investigation in early 2016, shortly after Infantino was elected president of world football�s governing body, about his awarding of a television rights contract to an offshore company in his previous role as UEFA�s legal affairs director.
According to the Tribune de Geneve newspaper, Infantino was �worried� about this investigation and wrote to his childhood friend, Rinaldo Arnold, who had become a senior prosecutor in Switzerland�s Haut-Valais region where they grew up.
�I will try to explain to the OAG that it is in my interests that everything should be cleared up as soon as possible, that it be clearly stated that I have nothing to do with this matter,� he wrote in an email cited by the newspaper.
Arnold, who had helped to set up a first meeting between Infantino and Attorney General Michael Lauber, replied: �What is important is the meeting in two weeks� time. If you like, I can come with you again.�
The meeting took place on April 22, 2016, the newspaper said, adding that what happened during it remains �a mystery�, and the OAG �refuses to speak about it�.
The OAG declined to comment on the Tribune de Geneve article when contacted by AFP.
FIFA said later on Monday �the email referred to in the article was obviously obtained by hacking, which is an illegal and criminal act.�
�Not only Mr Infantino had no reason to lie in that email, the email never said Mr Infantino wanted to �clear his name�,� FIFA added.
The Zurich-based federation has always indicated that the meetings between Infantino and the OAG were intended to show that FIFA was �ready to engage with the Swiss justice system�.
In November 2017, �after a third informal meeting� between Infantino and Lauber, the OAG closed the investigation into the contract signed by Infantino at UEFA, European football�s governing body.
The Tribune de Geneve also indicated that between July and September 2016, there were more than 20 calls between Swiss prosecutors and FIFA lawyers.
�Prosecutors have apparently helped FIFA formulate its requests� as a plaintiff so that they could be �accepted by the OAG� � an attitude which �seems incompatible with the OAG�s duty of impartiality�, the daily said. � AFP