The last month has certainly been soap opera-worthy in the balmy World of global football at its headquarters in Zurich, after a special prosecutor in Switzerland formally announced criminal indictments against a Swiss Federal prosecutor Micheal Lauber, Valais cantonal prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold and as icing to the cake, FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
What has followed has been the manifestation of absolute panic from within the ranks of FIFA with the most ridiculous claims and assertions, in the attempt to excuse Infantino’s criminal behavior and build a narrative that they believe ought to shield him from having to immediately vacate his position at FIFA.
An online media conference hosted by FIFA deputy SG Alasdair Bell which was followed closely thereafter by a letter to members of the FIFA Council co-signed by both Bell and his boss SG Fatma Samoura, have both quite naturally raised anxieties among the Council members and brought on more questions than answers it was supposed to give, to a global audience that is just so tired of the corruption and impunity currently practiced in the global game.
Liberian Musa Hassan Bility had clearly foreseen this eventuality when he wrote three brilliant letters, one to the African Union (AU), the other to members of the FIFA Council and another to the Presidents and members of UEFA and CONMEBOL.
In his July 31st letter to FIFA Council members, Bility was emphatic that “in FIFA there has existed a culture where when senior members get caught up in criminal investigations, scandals or indictments, they immediately vacate their positions in order not to taint the institution”.
He continued to say that there has indeed been a “a shift in this culture at FIFA over the last few years, since the shameful arrest of CAF President Ahmad Ahmad in Paris, France on 5th June 2019”.
He explains that the refusal of Ahmad to resign and the indifference of the FIFA Ethics committee to oust him immediately meant that Ahmad continued his various football roles of CAF President, FIFA VP and member of both the FIFA Bureau and the FIFA Council and his continued presence has polluted the global football perception while also apparently watering down the expectation of automatic resignation upon criminal indictment.
Bility in this letter was emphatic that Infantino was desperate not to relinquish his position and hopeful to use the ambivalence of a few to claim that he has the legitimacy to retain the FIFA Presidency.
Already, the stage has been set for a virtual “vote of confidence” during the upcoming FIFA Congress on 18th September 2020 where a small majority of members, most of whom contribute absolutely nothing to the fabric of global football will vote in support of Infantino and his continued stay at the helm of FIFA.
In his 28th July 2020 letter to UEFA and CONMEBOL, Bility bluntly told off these two giant organizations for having “sat silently as Infantino personally amended the FIFA Code of Ethics to his own benefit, sacked all independent heads of FIFA oversight committees and replaced them with pliable and malleable people, made nepotism and cronyism the centerpiece of FIFA’s human resource, abetted the theft of money by elected officials of member associations and the confederations of Africa and the Caribbean”.
Bility lamented that both UEFA and CONMEBOL were seen “with their hackles raised (only) when Infantino attempted to quietly auction their interests and financial lifelines to some obscure buyers”.
Most poignant though is Bility’s rhetorical question to UEFA and CONMEBOL;
“Does Infantino come across to you as the sort of person who would willingly relinquish his position as FIFA President even if he was found to have criminal culpability in the Lauber inquiry?”
Remember too that Infantino watched quietly as African FA Presidents elected a man indicted by the International criminal court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, to the CAF Executive committee (Exco).
This election was sanctioned by FIFA despite the fact that the man, Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona from the Central Africa Republic (CAR), over and above this criminal indictment by the ICC (which was already bad enough) was even barred by his own country (CAR) from running for the country’s presidency due to the indictment.
Ngaissona was eventually arrested in Paris in December 2018 where he had brazenly travelled in defiance, and now sits in a jail awaiting the completion of his trial at The Hague.
And Bility was absolutely right about how Infantino tinkered with the various FIFA oversight committees in anticipation of such a personal indictment, considering that he had come from UEFA encumbered by various scandals, most notable being the 2006 sale of UEFA TV rights to the shadowy father-son duo of Hugo and Mariano Jinkis for peanuts, and who in turn sold the rights onwards for almost 4 times their purchase value.
Last week, FIFA Ethics committee investigatory chamber President, the much-derided Maria Claudia Rojas, announced that she had conducted a preliminary investigation and reviewed relevant documents and evidence into the allegations against Gianni Infantino and concluded that there was a lack of credible evidence on all the claims that would constitute a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
In a widely expected outcome, she announced that the Ethics committee had promptly packed up the file and sent it to archives, with no further action on the same expected.
The obvious panic within FIFA has very many reasons, the main one being that the removal of Infantino would bring down his house of cards immediately. It is an empire that he has built with illustrious nepotism and cronyism, hand-picking loyalists from all over the World in repayment of political debts, most of which accrued from helping him ascend to the FIFA Presidency in 2016.
Some like Alasdair Bell came from UEFA and brought with them their minions who had worked with Infantino there, and in the process caused the outright sacking of close to 40 FIFA staffers, many of whom had worked at FIFA for years, just so as to create room for these cronies.
Others like legal officer Emilio García Silvero had come from Spanish FA through to UEFA and ultimately to FIFA through the good graces of the former FIFA VP Angel Maria Villar and his close ties with Infantino. Villar was later arrested for massive corruption in Spain where he has been embezzling FIFA funds shamelessly.
Infantino’s other stalwarts are his former classmate, Congolese refugee to Switzerland and previously sacked FIFA staffer Veron Mosengo-Omba who now heads the Associations docket at FIFA. He has personally overseen the laying to waste of FIFA policy in Africa and the Caribbean with his childishly naïve legal approach to complex matters such as in Trinidad & Tobago and Kenya.
Also staring at a quick exit is FIFA SG Fatma Samoura, a Senegalese former employee of the UN system whose last posting was in Madagascar where she struck up both a personal and business relationship with CAF President Ahmad.
It was on this basis that they were able to negotiate her employment in FIFA in exchange for the mobilization of the African vote by Ahmad for Infantino in the 2016 FIFA Presidential election.
Among the Confederations and FAs there is an equally unmitigated panic, based purely on the fact that the FIFA Ethics committee has dossiers about the financial malfeasance and other crimes on literally every FA President and Confederation boss from 3rd World FIFA members.
A departure by Infantino would trigger a re-organization of the membership of every committee within FIFA including the fearsome Ethics committees, the audit & compliance committee and the Governance committee, all of which would likely work in sync for the first time in several years, for a complete rout of global football.
To say that FIFA under Infantino has been turned into a criminal enterprise would be an understatement, a fact that can probably only be dealt with appropriately through legistlation in the form of “The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act).
Infantino, a segundo (2nd generation Italian in Switzerland) has brought his Sicilian heritage to a global organization, and we incredulously wonder aloud why UEFA had not nipped this horseshit in the bud when he worked there, and where he had shown a propensity towards criminality.
All eyes are now on UEFA and CONMEBOL, what will these two organizations do?
Infantino hopes to get a morale boost and renewed legitimacy from the mainly small-fish FIFA members on 18th September 2020 during the FIFA Congress, which would be akin to the adrenalin rush US President Trump gets from his rallies that bring together the dregs of American humanity who come display their depravity in his support.
Will UEFA and CONMEBOL trigger Infantino resignation or will they coyly wait for Stefan Keller to formally join the fray with his big stick to do the job for them?
For the longest time, it was a joke within African circles that UEFA and CONMEBOL love the rest of World football totally corrupt and unable to function properly. In this chaos, they have been able to wade in and reap hundreds of millions of eyeballs, millions in merchandise sales which in turn translated into ridiculously high broadcast rights as the fans from these countries turned their backs on their local football.
Cyclically this has translated into billions of dollars from global sponsorships and made UEFA and CONMEBOL competitions premium in nature, and their regularity has allowed them to leap-frog the FIFA World Cup commercially.
However, FIFA in the hands of a true Mafioso (Infantino) has sought to shift the balance of money and power back to FIFA, with the Godfather (Infantino) opting to use the corrupt jokers from the so-called “shithole (3rd World) countries” to rout UEFA and CONMEBOL interests.
We once again pose the question, what will UEFA and CONMEBOL do?
Just like the ebb and flow of the tide, so too do things change in the World order. Football too cannot revert to what it was before Infantino.
In Africa, the National foreign policy of Egypt revolved around the waters of the River Nile which the country has for decades stated was too crucial a lifeline and thus made access to these water an irreducible minimum and zero-sum in its dealings with neighbors.
Now Ethiopia has embarked on the construction and filling up of the mega Renaissance Dam which will take water from tributaries of the Nile but which emanate from its own highlands and in the process threatens to deplete the waters of the Nile significantly.
Threats of aggression and military action by Egypt have been countered with assurances that hostilities will be met with similar hostility by Ethiopia and lead to avoidable regional conflict.
Time has come for Egypt to re-think its formal policy of the waters of the Nile and especially with regards to investment in upriver tributaries and water catchment areas, which would ensure future generations have water.
Similarly, if the official policy of UEFA and CONMEBOL has previously been to sanction (albeit covertly) impoverishment of the rest of the football World and in the ensuing chaos reap the huge financial benefits, Infantino’s FIFA has proved that this model is no longer viable and has the capacity to come back to bite UEFA-CONMEBOL in the backside.
The only way to protect their investment would be to work overtime to clean up FIFA and ensure that its oversight committees work together seamlessly to bring order to the rest of the chaotic World.
To allow FIFA to continue giving its members and confederations millions of dollars every year in grants without audit and accountability is akin to giving a child a matchbox to play with inside a library, with the obvious disaster clearly imminent and more than likely.
To allow an all-powerful FIFA Presidency without checks and balances endangers them even more, especially because megalomaniacs like Infantino are not in short supply in the game.
This rational reasoning cannot be understood by the uber-broke FA Presidents from the “shithole countries” and who often practice a form of scorched-earth policy where they strip their Federations off every dollar, such that their successors find absolutely nothing in the coffers, and have to start again from scratch.
These are the ones that need Infantino’s official corruption policy in order to continue their looting and quite happily vote to retain him.
It is time for UEFA-CONMEBOL to sidestep these ne’er-do-wells and deal directly with Infantino, and give him an ultimatum.
Time to pack up and leave!