FIFA President Gianni Infantino secretly worked to weaken the global football organization’s code of ethics in several areas. That is evident from internal FIFA documents made available to DER SPIEGEL by the whistleblower platform Football Leaks and shared by the newsmagazine with the international reporting network European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) and three other partners. FIFA unveiled the controversial amendments to its ethics rules in August, garnering heavy criticism.
The documents reveal the changes were initiated not only by the relevant Ethics Committee and functionaries from the body’s continental confederations, as FIFA has claimed, but also by FIFA President Infantino himself. According to the documents, the chief judge of the Ethics Committee, Vassilios Skouris of Greece, sent Infantino a draft on Dec. 21, 2017, asking him to take a look. He requested Infantino send back his “remarks” in due time, “so I can incorporate them in the final text.”
Infantino responded with a series of corrective proposals, many of which found their way into the final version, including one suggestion that preliminary investigations against suspected corrupt officials may only be initiated if FIFA’s chief investigator signs off on them. This is important because FIFA’s new chief investigator, María Claudia Rojas from Columbia, is regarded as having little appetite for investigations.
Hans-Joachim Eckert, Skouris’ German predecessor, believes the Football Leaks revelations confirm his suspicions and is critical of Infantino’s behavior: “I have always said that the new Code of Ethics is Infantino’s work and here’s the proof.” Infantino’s interference is “a clear violation of the FIFA code and statutes,” Eckert added. FIFA, for its part, said it was “fully implausible” that Skouris, a former president of the European Court of Justice, could be pressured into making a decision against his will.
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