FIFA under Gianni Infantino, for all intents and purposes is dystopian, a state described as being undesirable and frightening and which jeopardizes the perpetual enjoyment of the beautiful game for the billions of its fans globally.
Infantino came to FIFA directly from UEFA where he had risen, courtesy of the good graces of its former President Michel Platini, from the obscurity of a mere lawyer to become a Director of the Nyon-based organization.
And even then, Infantino did not come to FIFA unencumbered from scandals of his own making in UEFA, scandals that have ultimately wound up under investigation of Swiss or French authorities.
For example, barely two months after Infantino was elected FIFA President in 2016, than UEFA headquarters in Nyon were raided by police, following an expose in the Panama Papers which implicated Infantino in the sale of UEFA broadcast rights for a pittance.
Infantino – formerly director of legal services at UEFA, European football’s governing body had apparently co-signed a TV contract in 2006 with two businessmen who had since been caught up in football’s global corruption scandal.
Charges stated that in 2006 UEFA entered into an offshore deal through its marketing partner TEAM with one of the indicted figures at the heart of an alleged “World Cup fraud”, despite previously insisting it had no dealings with any of them.
The Ecuadorian rights to the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup were acquired by an Argentinian company called Cross Trading, then immediately sold on to broadcaster TeleAmazonas for about three or four times the amount paid for them.
The contracts covered the period from 2003 to 2006 and from 2006 to 2009 and represent the grossest form of TV Rights speculation on the one hand and illustrated how UEFA operated unprofessionally by selling rights to brokers instead of institutions that could actually exploit the broadcast rights, on the other.
The second scandal was Infantino’s trampling on the Financial Fair Play (FFP) Rules, and in the process, helped the Oil-funded clubs Paris- St. Germaine (PSG) and Manchester City to bypass serious sanction for their breaches of these rules.
The 2013-2014 season was the inaugural season for the introduction and implementation of these rules, in which clubs that had qualified for European competition were required to allow UEFA to examine their books in accordance with Financial Fair Play (FFP). This set of rules had been established by the Frenchman Michel Platini as a prestige project defining his presidency of UEFA.
According to German paper www.spiegel.de, one of the most persuasive reasons for the FFP “was the need to protect the European club tournaments from the vast amounts of money flooding into the football market as oligarchs from Russia, billionaires from the United States and sheikhs from the Arab world invested in clubs across the continent. Tradition-rich clubs that didn’t want to sell no longer stood much of a chance against the nouveau riche and their financial doping”.
Apparently, while Infantino was UEFA SG, the organization had begun investigation into at least 9 clubs for such breaches, with inconvertible evidence against Man City and PSG, the former having been sold to the ruling family of Abu Dhabi in 2008, while the latter had been sold to the emirate of Qatar in 2011.
It was therefore a complete letdown when in 2014, secret deals were arrived at between UEFA and the two clubs, through which they avoided the harshest sanctions, of being unable to participate in the Champions League for several seasons.
The deals were shocking in part due to the rabid insistence of both Platini and Infantino that the FFP rules would be applied to the letter and regardless of the status of the clubs involved.
www.spiegel.de continues, “During the FFP proceedings, Infantino met with club bosses from PSG and Man City on several occasions for secret talks, even supplying them with confidential materials. He proposed compromises that he was unauthorized to propose. In short: He betrayed his own organization”.
This modus operandi sounds eerily familiar to exactly what is happening currently in FIFA and with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, where critical legal matters are decided through secret meetings and opaque side-deals, it is clear that Infantino has brought with him to FIFA, the bad manners he had perfected at UEFA.
In an email to Man City’s Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the football club’s chairman, Infantino writes almost in a docile manner, like a man subservient to money and willing to cut any deal or make any capitulation, to curry favor with those in control of purse-strings.
“You will see that I’ve sometimes chosen a wording which ‘looks’ more ‘strong,'” which alludes to his obvious grandstanding and playing to the gallery while he didn’t mean any of it, before continuing, “Please read the document with this spirit.” “Of course, this message is just between us. Strictly confidential”.
“Finally, I would also like to thank you for your trust. You know you can trust me.” “Let’s be positive!” he concluded his disgustingly lame email, wherein he had screwed his own organization.
UEFA therefore knew that Infantino was a problematic character even before they fronted him for the top FIFA seat, and maybe that is the real reason they pawned him off to the rest of the World, hoping to make him everyone else’s problem.
Unfortunately, things have not gone according to the UEFA script, and they have only now discovered what a mortal danger Infantino really is to their vast business empire and interests, and that he is quite happy to sell off UEFA interests in exchange for Arab/Oil money just as he had previously done at UEFA in the PSG/Man City fiasco.
When Infantino was elected to the FIFA Presidency in early 2016, in his first speech to the delegates, he promised a return of FIFA to its “real owners” and shareholders, who in this case just happened to be the Football Associations of the 200+ FIFA members.
Much to their delight, Infantino promised to quadruple their annual grants overnight, without a corresponding mechanism for accountability of how these funds would be used.
Which of the insignificant football entities, that masquerade as FIFA members and that contribute little or nothing to global football would argue with such a value proposition?
Sadly, this also meant equalizing all the so-called FIFA shareholders by dolling out these grants in equal tranches regardless of contribution either to the global game or to the biggest FIFA earner, the FIFA World Cup.
One of his first proposals was a reorganization of the FIFA competitions in such a way as to create brand new ones, which had the potential to neutralize the money-spinners of the Confederations like UEFA and CONMEBOL.
These new competitions were part of a secret agreement between him and Arab countries that would have also seen him sell-off the FIFA archives in the process. The Arab money was being fronted through Japanese SoftBank, an institution whose CEO Masayoshi Son is known to be a bit of a maverick.
Nothing illustrates just how Masayoshi Son does business than the hare-brained investment into WeWork, the premises sharing business that collapsed in 2019 despite an infusion of Billions of Dollars, and several other questionable investments that only recently led to the resignation of Alibaba CEO Jack Ma from the SoftBank board.
SoftBank handles the entire Saudi Arabia sovereign fund through the good graces of its leader Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) who was implicated by the CIA in the cold-blooded murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khasoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey in 2018.
Had this plan come to fruition, Infantino would have been able to neutralize UEFA, which continues to earn more money, year-on-year than FIFA from its competitions.
Infantino did not understand how FIFA could be called the “World Football Governing Body” while still making so much less money than its Confederation UEFA.
This only just gives you a glimpse into the mind of the man…
At FIFA, and in order to kill all the initiatives for good governance that had been implemented since the disastrous FIFAgate indictments of 2015, Infantino went about frustrating or sacking anyone with a vestige of independence in the organization, including but not limited to, Hans Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely from the leadership of the FIFA Ethics committee.
He also triggered the resignations of Manuel Maduro as the head of the Governance committee and Thomas Vesel from the Audit and Compliance committee, who refused to tarnish their reputations by becoming mere rubber stamps to his madness.
Within FIFA, he sacked at least 40 employees, replacing them with handpicked others from UEFA, including (shockingly) a lawyer who was party to the UEFA disciplinary proceedings against PSG and Man City and whom he had directed to clandestinely give confidential copies of all the disciplinary committee proceedings to Man City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
One of the more notable new employees who came to FIFA with Infantino was Congolese refugee Veron Mosengo-Omba, a man who had been adopted and raised by a Swiss family as a child and who was fortuitous enough to have gone to University with Infantino.
Having grown up most of his life in Europe, his actions since arrival at FIFA confirm the fact that he knows little if anything, of the African continent.
Much worse, is the fact that Mosengo-Omba had previously been sacked by FIFA for gross incompetence, a fact that people at UEFA confirmed and reiterated that most of them had indicated that they would never work with him, for the reason that he displayed the trait of inconsistency.
Following the sacking at FIFA, Infantino created the post of Chief Officer under whom he also created 5 positions of Director, one of which he awarded Moseongo-Omba, with the specific task of taking care of the critical and vote-rich African and Caribbean zones.
Today, we understand that Mosengo-Omba has risen to be the Chief Officer, effectively making him in-charge of all development activities at FIFA.
As you would imagine, all these positions (with lofty sounding titles) went to cronies and henchmen, and we can confidently posit here that this inflation of titles and positions has zero purpose apart from accommodating friends and vassals.
Now these radical staff and committee changes at FIFA allowed Infantino to feel that he had secured his flank, and that he was now able to begin his misguided onslaught to clip the wings of UEFA.
Another unnecessary sideshow meant to deflect from his real intentions was the proposal to place a cap on player and other agents earning power, ironically coming from the same person who allowed anarchy in European football by allowing the Oil money unchecked into the game, money that also increased the cost of players exponentially, and in the process, agents fees.
Why target agents alone now that he is at FIFA? Why does everyone else get to see their earnings grow exponentially but agent’s earnings limited? What exactly is this fight with agents a Red Herring for?
UEFA made two grievous errors in their approach to FIFA;
The first and most obvious was the presumption that because Infantino came from them, and with their unequivocal support, he would (for some inexplicable reason) place their interests above all others, even his own narrow and parochial ones.
The second error by UEFA was the child-like belief that since their own competitions generated money that dwarfed FIFA’s, they were always ambivalent to FIFA funds, happy to have it shared out among the other FIFA members as FIFA pleased, and hoping somehow to appear magnanimous about it.
In reality however, FIFA used this money to create warlords from Confederations like CAF and CONMEBOL, whom Infantino turned into lethal voting machines against European interests.
The kicker though, is that majority of the commercial revenues generated by FIFA are almost certainly 90% driven by the work put in by UEFA and its members during the non-World Cup years, which eventually drains into FIFA coffers.
You may wonder, why does UEFA and its membership naively believe in the democratic principle of universal suffrage (one member, one vote) at the FIFA Congress, when the presupposition in democracies is that all voters have the capacity to contribute equally to the National cake?
Nowhere is this madness at the FIFA Congress best illustrated than by the membership of FIFA by members of the Caribbean Football Union(CFU), where at least 85% of the total population of CFUs 25 members is made up of only 6 territories.
Even a territory by the name Montseratt with a total population of 5000 people still has a single vote at the FIFA Congress, and is entitled to the same $6 million that each and every other FIFA member gets per cycle from the FIFA Forward grants.
Shouldn’t we therefore expect the natives of Montseratt to populate the top leagues in the World considering the per capita application of FIFA funds over the years? Or at the very least to have qualified for several FIFA World Cups in the period of their membership?
It is the work of Veron Mosengo-Omba to keep a tight handle on the leash in the populous African and Caribbean vote basket, which has led to some really shitty decisions.
In Africa, CAF has been virtually run aground by the quartet of President Ahmad Ahmad, VP Constant Omari, 2nd VP Fouzi Lekjaa and former SG Mouad Hajji, under whose stewardship CAF lost $24 million in just 3 years.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Mosengo-Omba unilaterally disbanded the duly elected executive of the Trinidad and Tobago FA and replaced it with a Normalization committee, upon learning that this new executive was conducting an audit into its predecessors activities, that had seen all of $3 million disappear into thin air.
Stolen FIFA money by these small and largely insignificant (in footballing terms) countries has been allowed by FIFA in exchange for block voting on any of Infantino’s crazy ideas, most of which have no sensible endgame.
Why then, would UEFA allow such an unwieldy situation to persist?
By way of example, World Rugby (the Sports Governing body) only last week finalized the election of a President in a tight race that saw Sir Bill Beaumont elected.
The structure of voting at WR is pretty simple and fair, by and large because it weights votes by on-field performance and investment in the game.
Let us illustrate, WR has a total of 120 members but its top legislation organ is the WR Council that has a total of 52 votes, broken down thus;
- (30) Ten unions/countries with three (3) votes each: Argentina, Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, and Wales.
- (2) One union with two (2) votes: Japan.
- (7) Seven unions with one (1) vote each: Canada, Georgia, Fiji, Samoa, Romania, United States and Uruguay
- (12) The six regional associations representing Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania with two (2) votes each.
In total, Europe has 22 votes; Oceania 10 votes; South America 6 votes; Africa 5 votes; North America 4 votes and Asia 4 votes.
The General Assembly of WR, has absolutely no legislative powers and therefore meets only biennially to give recommendations to the Council.
At FIFA, the General Assembly is the supreme decision-making organ of the body which therefore makes a mockery of attempts to create parity within the FIFA Council by allocating slots per confederation based on the number of members in that Confederation.
Any decision taken by vote by the FIFA Council can subsequently be tossed out by the FIFA Congress, thereby nullifying its need in the grand scheme of things.
It is time for UEFA to force a re-look at the order of things at FIFA and to restructure the political dynamics therein, if they hope to survive.
It is time to remove this aberration called Infantino from the FIFA Presidency, dismantle his nut-house at FIFA, reconfigure the committees and re-establish a new footballing World order based on performance and football output, to become eligible for FIFA funding.
Should Infantino wish to leverage the votes from these other members to fight back, then UEFA needs to lead a walkout from the FIFA World Cup, and allow these other members an opportunity to play and enjoy the financial fruits of their participation.
UEFA fucked up once with the Qatar vote, and unless something changes, the European football season will stop midway to allow players to reconvene with their National teams to participate in the 2022 World Cup.
If the World Cup is the reason FIFA holds UEFA ransom, isn’t it time to call their bluff?
From the rest of the World we implore UEFA, please come and take your lunatic Infantino away, have him committed somewhere, far away from our football.