Former FIFA Governance Exec Says Infantino Exerted 'Undue Influence'
The man tasked with cleaning up FIFA's corrupt governance accused the organization of sacking him after he ignored attempts by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to exert "undue influence" on him, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Miguel Maduro, who was ousted as the head of the governing body’s independent governance committee in May, told a parliamentary inquiry Infantino "tried to stop him barring" Russian Deputy PM Vitaly Mutko from standing for election to its council. Maduro said that senior officials "were even sent to warn him" that next summer's World Cup in Russia "would be a disaster" unless he backed off and that this would put Infantino's presidency of FIFA "in jeopardy." In what was "damning testimony, which cast more doubt than ever" on the organization's commitment to reform, Maduro accused the Swiss of "placing his own political survival ahead of the principles of good governance." It was also revealed at the select committee hearing that FIFA "refused to allow" sacked chief investigator Cornel Borbély to appear before Parliament alongside Maduro, citing "confidentiality clauses in his contract." Committee Chair Damian Collins said, "People can draw their own conclusions as to why FIFA would seek to restrict someone from freely giving evidence to a national parliament when there is clear public interest in the subject matter" (London TELEGRAPH, 9/13). In London, David Conn reported Maduro said that Infantino "failed to uphold the independent reforms against resistance from powerful figures" inside FIFA. The governing body, Maduro argued, is "incapable of abiding by its own new anti-corruption structures" and needs "outside pressure" to reform. The governance committee's decision to bar Mutko was the "key confrontation." Maduro said that he was "very clear" in his response that his governance committee was following FIFA's rules on "political neutrality" and exercising its judgment independently as required. He added that Infantino then responded by email to the committee upholding its conclusion. Maduro said, "The president expressed great concern with that decision." Infantino argued that the committee was "misapplying" FIFA's rules, Maduro said, but added that he "held firm and maintained the decision was correct" (GUARDIAN, 9/13). The BBC reported Maduro also alleged:
- Some confederations "tried to block full implementation of new rules on electing female committee members."
- Half of the governance committee is "currently not independent," as required.
- In elections, different colored pens "could be distributed to identify how people vote."
- Egypt's FIFA member, Hany Abo Rida, "threw a party and flew in delegates after being re-elected in May" (BBC, 9/13).