Zurich: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been cleared of breaching the world governing body’s code of ethics.
Infantino had been investigated by FIFA’s independent ethics committee over “potential breaches” of rules relating to conflicts of interest, loyalty and offering and accepting gifts. But an ethics committee statement read: “After conducting both preliminary and formal investigation proceedings, the investigatory chamber of the independent ethics committee has decided to conclude its investigations concerning FIFA president Gianni Infantino. It was found that no violation of the FIFA code of ethics (FCE) had been committed by Mr Infantino.
“The adjudicatory chamber took note of and accepted the decision of the investigatory chamber.”
Infantino took charge of the game’s global governing body in February, replacing the embattled Sepp Blatter, and vowed to “restore the image and respect of FIFA”.
The 46-year-old Swiss-Italian had denied any wrongdoing and welcomed Friday’s announcement. A statement released on his behalf said: “FIFA president Gianni Infantino is pleased that, following a thorough review, the investigatory chamber of the independent ethics committee has determined that “no violation of the FIFA code of ethics (FCE) has been committed.
“This decision has been accepted by the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee, which conducted its own comprehensive review of the decision.
“The president would like to thank all those who cooperated with the ethics committee to ensure that the facts were heard and the truth prevailed.”
Infantino went on to say his promise to hold wrongdoers to account for past actions and build a more transparent organisation for the future would go on.
“With this matter now resolved, the president and the FIFA administration will continue to focus on developing football as well as their efforts to improve the organisation,” the statement continued.
“Tangible progress has been made in key areas such as ensuring that those who have acted against the interests of football are identified and held to account, improving FIFA’s governance and repairing its reputation, and restoring trust with its stakeholders. This critical work will continue.”
The ethics committee said the investigation had been ongoing for “several weeks” and included numerous interviews with witnesses, including Infantino. A preliminary investigation focused on three areas, namely “several flights taken by Mr Infantino during the first months of his presidency, human resources matters related to hiring processes in the president’s office, and Mr Infantino’s refusal to sign the contract specifying his employment relationship with FIFA”.
A formal investigation followed, led by ethics committee member Vanessa Allard, while allegations relating to expenses and governance were not pursued. The ethics committee statement explained the reasoning for finding in Infantino’s favour.
“No relevant situations involving conflicts of interest related to Mr Infantino’s position as FIFA president were identified, and the benefits enjoyed by Mr Infantino were not considered improper in the light of applicable FIFA rules and regulations,” it read.
“Moreover, Ms Allard found that the human resources matters, as well as Mr Infantino’s conduct with regard to his contract with FIFA, if at all, constituted internal compliance issues rather than an ethical matter. As such, the final report prepared by Ms Allard concluded that no ethical breaches had been committed by Mr Infantino.”
Hans-Joachim Eckert and Alan Sullivan, the chairman and deputy chairman of FIFA’s investigatory chamber, reviewed the findings and raised no objection.