“In Fifa under Gianni Infantino, panic has obviously broken out,” said Basel criminal law professor Mark Pieth (67) to CH Media. There is hardly any other explanation for the fact that the world football association “attacks a harmless professor in such a way.”
The anti-corruption expert refers to a statement sent by Fifa under boss Gianni Infantino on Sunday morning. In it, the world football association links a newspaper article that it probably initiated himself. The article is an attack on criminal law professor Pieth, who in the last few months has criticized Fifa boss Infantino and his activities. And the communiqué sent by Fifa intensifies the attack and carries it out.
The tenor is: Pieth is not independent, so his criticism of the great chairman Infantino has no meaning.
The story published by the “football boss” of the “Sonntags-Blick” has been circulated by followers of the Fifa boss for years. In it, the criminal law professor Pieth is accused of having once collected millions for his work as chairman of the Fifa reform commission in the years 2011 to 2013. “2.5 million francs for nothing”, so the title of the text. With the reform, client Sepp Blatter wanted to give FIFA more credibility at the time.
Infantino sends Bell to confidante
Infantino’s old confidante Alasdair Bell, Vice-Secretary General of Fifa, twice in the Fifa announcement with criticism of the criminal law professor: “Mr. Pieth and the Basel Institute on Governance have collected millions in fees from FIFA under the direction of Sepp Blatter”. Haudegen Bell, who already worked with Infantino at Uefa, deduces the claim that the Swiss criminal law expert is not independent of world renown.
The background of the Infantino attack on Pieth is the criminal proceedings for possible incitement to crimes, which the Fifa boss has because of his ominous “Schweizerhof” meeting with federal prosecutor Michael Lauber. At the beginning of the criminal proceedings against Infantino stood the former Basel public prosecutor and police commander Markus Mohler, who raised the questions in an interview with CH Media that are now being investigated by the extraordinary public prosecutor. Mohler and Pieth have known each other for years, from the University of Basel and Mohler’s time as police commander. Now Infantino apparently senses a Basel conspiracy.
Several criminal charges were filed after Mohler’s interview in CH Media. The extraordinary federal prosecutor Stefan Keller is currently investigating whether there were crimes such as favoritism or violation of official secrecy, especially at a meeting that none of four or five participants want to remember. The meeting, which was not logged, took place in the luxury hotel Schweizerhof, which belongs to the Qatar State Fund.
In terms of his defense, Infantino has massively stepped up his media work, namely hiring a press officer from Germany who is very actively seeking contact with journalists.
Should the seat move to Qatar, says Pieth
Infantino must fear being suspended as Fifa president because of the criminal proceedings like his predecessor Blatter, which would mean losing his job. At the beginning of the week he went on the counter-offensive via his old confidante Bell, who attacked the extraordinary federal prosecutor and assessed the criminal proceedings as “absolutely unfair”.
If Fifa and Infantino don’t like the Swiss constitutional state, they should move their headquarters to Qatar or something similar, Pieth says. In a country that is apparently more in line with their sense of justice.
Back to the attack on Pieth: The work of the Reform Commission under Pieth and his Basel Institute on Governance, which was active for three years, cost 2.5 million. Travel expenses and fees included. A dozen people from all over the world were employed and, as Pieth explains, they were paid business class for their long-haul flights. “I didn’t take any money as wages myself,” he said, because he got his wages from university. But he had billed for the time he needed and then transferred this money to the university’s cash register as usual. His institute did not make a profit with the FIFA reform. “The Basel Institute had to pay the secretary and the media expert of our commission.” Therefore, the effective effort was offset. Conversely, there was no question of “giving gifts to a rich sports organization like Fifa”.
Independent people were sidelined
Pieth rejects the accusation that the reform work has brought nothing at all. Among other things, because Uefa, at that time under Platini and Infantino, blocked parts such as the term limit, little remained in substance. “Unfortunately, only the paper version remains of the reform efforts. From my point of view, they have been eroded because the professional and independent people have been replaced by dependent people, ”says Pieth.
Because one of the consequences of Pieth’s work was initially critical people at the head of the Fifa ethics committee such as the American Michael Garcia, the Swiss Cornel Borbély, the German Hans-Joachim Eckert. Among them, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were suspended after the federal prosecutor opened criminal proceedings against Blatter. Pieth says that these people have shown how independent they are by exercising their office. And the chief supervisor Domenico Scala “calculated a wage for the new president that he didn’t like”. But under Infantino these people were deposed. “They were afraid of their independence”, Pieth is certain.
Gianni Infantino is presumed to be innocent.