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FIFA ethics watchdog clears Infantino of wrongdoing

FIFA ethics watchdog clears Infantino of wrongdoing

Switzerland

FIFA ethics committee have cleared president Gianni Infantino in the case of alleged misconduct over use of private flights.

Infantino was under investigation last month over allegations he breached the governing body’s code of ethics as part of a preliminary inquisition into issues including potential conflicts of interest and expenses claims.

“It was found that no violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE) had been committed by Mr Infantino,” the ethics committee said in a statement.

It said that investigations had been carried out over several weeks and included “a large number of interviews with witnesses and Mr Infantino himself, as well as an extensive analysis of evidence, and were supported by independent legal opinions”.

Infantino, in a statement issued by FIFA, said he was “pleased” with the outcome.

German media have been reporting for several weeks that Infantino, whose predecessor Sepp Blatter has been banned for six years for ethics violations, was under investigation over flights he had taken on private jets.
FIFA has been in turmoil after a wave of indictments of football officials in the United States last year, including former members of its executive committee, on corruption-related charges.

The football body has also been forced to investigate controversies surrounding the awarding of its showpiece, the World Cup finals, especially the decision to grant the 2018 tournament to Russia and the 2022 finals to Qatar.

Blatter was banned by FIFA’s own ethics committee along with former European soccer boss Michel Platini, who is serving a four-year suspension.

The ethics committee said that preliminary investigations had focused on several flights taken by Infantino, the hiring process for positions in the president’s office and his refusal to sign the contract specifying his employment relationship with FIFA.

Infantino’s conduct might have breached articles on code of conduct, loyalty, conflicts of interest and offering and accepting gifts, it said.

However, after formal proceedings were opened, it was concluded that the flights “did not represent ethics violations” and that benefits enjoyed by Infantino were not “improper” in the light of applicable FIFA rules and regulations.

It said the hiring process and Infantino’s employment contract were internal compliance issues rather than ethical matters.

FIFA’s statement said Infantino and his administration would “continue to focus on developing football as well as their efforts to improve the organisation.”

“This critical work will continue,” it said.