ZURICH, Switzerland (Reuters) – The global football body FIFA has failed to gain access to case files compiled by the special prosecutor named last year to handle an investigation into and involvement of its president Gianni Infantino with the former Swiss attorney general.
Special prosecutor Stefan Keller in July opened a criminal case over undocumented meetings held by Infantino and former chief prosecutor Michael Lauber while Lauber’s office investigated alleged corruption in world football.
Infantino and Lauber, who have since resigned, have denied any wrongdoing. The FIFA ethics committee cleared Infantino in August of any code violations.
In a verdict released yesterday, the Federal Criminal Court rejected FIFA’s request for access to files at the inquiry as a third party directly involved in the case.
FIFA, which complained that opening a criminal case against its president had damaged its reputation, argued that Keller was unauthorized to initiate such proceedings and appealed against its decision to deny FIFA’s request to see case files.
In a statement, FIFA said Keller gave a “misleading impression that something illegal or unfortunate might have happened when the FIFA president met with the former Swiss Attorney General. Any such suggestion or implication is completely rejected. ”
He said neither FIFA nor Infantino had been informed of alleged wrongdoing nor had the FIFA president had any opportunity to respond.
“FIFA and the President of FIFA will, of course, continue to co-operate with this investigation, assuming they never have the opportunity to do so,” he added.
Infantino was elected in 2016 to clean up FIFA after it was embroiled in a corruption scandal.