Swiss prosecutors clear FIFA President Gianni Infantino of collusion allegations, ending a three-year investigation; Infantino demands an apology from critics.
After a three-year probe into alleged collusion between FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Swiss officials, Swiss prosecutors announced on Thursday that they have closed the criminal proceedings.
The probe, initiated in July 2020, failed to substantiate the suspicions, thereby providing Infantino and FIFA a moment of vindication.
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The heart of the investigation revolved around suspicions that Infantino had colluded with Switzerland's then-attorney general, Michael Lauber, during the height of the corruption scandal that rocked Zurich-based FIFA in 2015.
Lauber, responsible for leading Switzerland's inquiry into the FIFA scandal, had to step away from the investigation in June 2019. This decision came in the wake of media reports that disclosed several undeclared meetings between Lauber and Infantino.
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However, the two special prosecutors assigned to scrutinize the allegations stated, "The suspicion of instrumentalisation of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland by FIFA has not been substantiated in the course of the comprehensive investigation. On the contrary, the suspicion was refuted."
Responding to the decision, FIFA expressed its "extreme satisfaction" in an official statement.
The world football governing body highlighted their bewilderment at the duration of the investigation, asserting that the outcome was an "obvious conclusion."
Infantino, 53, seized the moment to declare the decision as a full and clear victory for me, for the new FIFA, and for justice.
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"It is now clear that the accusations against me were mere attempts by poor, envious and corrupt people to attack my reputation. If these people have some dignity left, they should at least have the decency and apologise for their actions and the damage caused," he stated.
"Indeed and with no surprise, the investigation fully and clearly confirms that I have always acted in a lawful and correct way, always defending exclusively the interests of FIFA and football."
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This closure is expected to restore some degree of faith in the leadership of the world's most influential football organization, as it continues to recover from the shadow of the 2015 corruption scandal.