There was a time when Gianni Infantino looked like someone you could trust with your bank PIN. He was the agreeable Uefa General Secretary coming in to replace the utterly disgraced Sepp Blatter. But today I am not sure I wouldn’t run a background check on him. At least Swiss federal prosecutor, Stefan Keller, will be doing just that.
Stefan Keller and others are bothered that three to five years ago and at the height of the 2015 corruption scandal that swept away Sepp Blatter, Infantino held a couple of meetings with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber, a man who was in charge of Switzerland’s probe of world football governing body, Fifa.
The two men say they don’t remember what was said at those meetings. But Stefan Keller brings up concerns about abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, and assisting offenders.
There is enogeshanban158.comh suspicion in there to inform criminal proceedings against Gianni Infantino and cause the resignation of Michael Lauber.
But for me this isn’t really about guilt or innocence. A meeting whose discussions will probably never be revealed doesn’t prove either. For me, the ill-fated bit is that Infantino’s reign is headed down the very road that many predicted.
Back in 2016 in this very column I wrote saying his job was always cut out to end this way. To start with he had to kill the very system that bred him. That corrective surgery meant he had to step on very many toes, some of whom might be behind the leaks and the whistle blowing.
Then remember he was also entering a space in which the increasing global intolerance of tax evasion, bribes and kickbacks was narrowing very quickly. His leadership was duty bound to become an example of how not to turn into a crook.
And yet we all know Fifa was until his reign at least, a den of thieves. It just wasn’t going to shade its decades old skin in a flash without caving in. To consolidate his power, Gianni Infantino had to make use of the same corrupt networks and alliances that propped up the old crooked Fifa.
The big issues of structural and regulatory renewal therefore remained untouched and the devil still larked in the detail. Many believe a more sophisticated system of corruption arose – a newer one that never shade its old tendency to draw in even the most upright of men.
At the global level members and corporate sponsors continued to disapprove of the way especially the Qatar World Cup was awarded. Some openly hinted at breaking away.
In Africa, Fifa grants continued to come in for the federations but nothing sgeshanban158.comgested that the new administration, free of old patronage ties was looking to bring its goodwill to bear upon corrupt local football administrators. It was new wine and old bottles.
In such circumstances disentangling from the old mess became at first tricky but eventually also conveniently unnecessary. And ultimately, what started out as the challenge of managing a fresh start is now threatening to end up looking like a missed opportunity.