Gianni Infantino’s leadership of FIFA faced renewed criticism Wednesday when two former officials turned on the president with complaints about his conduct.
New York University law professor Joseph Weiler disclosed he has submitted an ethics complaint to FIFA about alleged undue interference by Infantino on the work of the governance panel he served until May.
Weiler quit his FIFA role after the abrupt removal of committee chairman Miguel Maduro, who testified Wednesday to British legislators about the strong pressure applied by Infantino in an apparent attempt to influence decisions.
Maduro said he was told that banning Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko from soccer’s ruling council would be a “disaster” for the 2018 World Cup and Infantino’s presidency could be jeopardized.
But Maduro still went through with the biggest call of his tenure — blocking Mutko, who is also head of the 2018 World Cup organizing committee, from seeking re-election to the FIFA Council on grounds of political interference.
“With the exception of that case in general, the president did not try to influence our decisions,” Maduro told the sports committee at the House of Commons. “He would transit to me sometimes those decisions were not well accepted but in that case there was an attempt to influence that decision.”
Impact on World Cup
It came in March just as Russia was preparing to host a World Cup warm-up tournament, where Infantino met with Mutko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“[Infantino] expressed concerns about the impact of the decision [to ban Mutko] on the World Cup,” Maduro said. “He was very clear about that.”
FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura went further to Maduro.
“The secretary general made it clear to me that it was extremely problematic,” Maduro said. “More than that, she said we needed to find a solution to declare Mr. Mutko eligible because otherwise the presidency itself would be in question, the World Cup would be a disaster,…