FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s “suspicious friendship” with Swiss prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold was brought to light in Football Leaks revelations published on Friday by a consortium of European media, including the French investigative website Mediapart.
According to European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), “invitations” were given to the chief prosecutor of the Haut-Valais region of Switzerland for the match between the Swiss and Costa Rica at this year’s World Cup as well as the FIFA Congress in Mexico in May 2016 and the Champions League final in Milan the same month.
“Thanks very much for the tickets for the Champions League final. My youngest son will go with my wife,” Arnold wrote to Infantino in an email in May 2016.
“According to FIFA’s internal directives and regulations, the President and the Secretary General are entitled to invite a number of guests to FIFA tournaments and events,” world football’s governing body told AFP.
“Mr. Arnold, who is a personal acquaintance of the President, was invited as his guest.”
The EIC claims that Arnold would provide Infantino with details of ongoing investigations by Swiss prosecutors, including in the wake of the Panama Papers leak in 2016, when UEFA was investigated for signing a television deal with an offshore company.
In relation to the TV deal, FIFA told AFP: “The matter was reviewed by the Office of the Swiss Attorney General and the file was closed since there was no case to answer.”
Cristiano Ronaldo reached an agreement with Spanish authorities to pay 16.7 million euros ($19 million) to settle a tax fraud claim that followed a previous Football Leaks investigation in 2016.