Swiss police raid European soccer association over new FIFA boss

  • 07/04/2016

By Stephanie Nebehay

Swiss police raided the headquarters of the European soccer body UEFA on Wednesday (local time) to gather information about a contract signed by new FIFA boss Gianni Infantino that was reported in the Panama Papers.

The Swiss attorney-general's (OAG) office said the search in Nyon, Switzerland, was part of "ongoing criminal proceedings" and had been launched because of "suspicion of criminal mismanagement and ... misappropriation".

Infantino, elected FIFA president in February, said in a statement issued by the soccer body that he welcomed any investigation into the matter.

Reports from multiple news organisations, citing a leaked document from the so-called Panama Papers, said on Tuesday UEFA sold broadcast rights for 2006-09 Champions League matches to Argentine businessmen Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, owners of Cross Trading.

These reports said the pair resold the rights to Ecuadorian broadcaster Teleamazonas for three times as much, though UEFA said it had no knowledge of such a deal.

UEFA has confirmed that Infantino, who was working for UEFA at the time, was one of two of its officials who signed the contract.

The governing body has denied any wrongdoing by itself or Infantino.

Hugo and Mariano Jinkis are among several dozen football officials who were last year indicted in the United States as part of a huge corruption scandal which has swept the game and thrown FIFA into turmoil.

Infantino was elected as FIFA president to try to lead the federation into a new, scandal-free era.

"It is in my interest and in the interest of football that everything should come to light," Infantino said in the statement issued by FIFA on Wednesday, adding that "all contractual matters were conducted properly by UEFA".

The document was part of the 11 million that were leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca in what have become known as the Panama Papers.

In another development, FIFA's ethics committee said Juan Pedro Damiani, a member of its judgment chamber who had been placed under a preliminary investigation, had resigned.

On Sunday, the committee said it was looking into a possible business link between Damiani and fellow Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo, one of the indicted officials.

Damiani, a member of the committee since 2006, has denied wrongdoing and said his law firm had ended its professional link with Figueredo as soon as the FIFA issue came to light.