Global soccer may be embroiled in yet another corruption crisis after Swiss police raided the offices of UEFA, the sport’s European governing body, on Wednesday. The raid came days after Gianni Infantino, UEFA’s former chief and the newly installed president of FIFA, appeared in the massive Panama Papers leak, which exposed the complex offshore banking arrangements of some of the world’s most powerful people.
According to the Guardian, those documents show that Infantino co-signed a UEFA broadcast rights deal in 2006 with two Argentinian businessmen, Hugo and Marino Jinkis, who are now under indictment as part of the United States’ global soccer corruption investigation. The men immediately resold the rights to Ecuador’s TV station Teleamazonas at a steep markup, and the documents potentially tie Infantino to both that deal and other illicit acts by the Jinkis’.
Infantino was UEFA’s director of legal services at the time, and he said in a statement yesterday that the contract was awarded properly and that he had no direct dealings with either of the two men or their company. “There is no indication whatsoever for any wrongdoings from neither UEFA nor myself in this matter,” he said.
Infantino was only elected FIFA president in February, following months of scandal during which the US and Swiss authorities arrested a string of FIFA officials and the organization banned its former president, Sepp Blatter, from any soccer-related activities for six years.
At the time, Infantino promised to turn the page on FIFA’s corruption problems and implement badly needed reforms. “We will restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA, and everyone in the world will applaud us,” he said after his election.