Judge FIFA on actions, not speculation, says Infantino

Zurich (AFP) –


FIFA's new president Gianni Infantino appealed Thursday for the public to judge the scandal-plagued world football body on its actions and not on hasty conclusions and speculation.

"Given the events of the last few years I can understand that the public view FIFA with scepticism," Infantino said in an opinion piece published in German daily Neuen Zurcher Zeitung (NZZ).

"However, from now on the focus should be on our actions and deeds, rather than on premature conclusions and speculation," he said, according to the English version of the text provided by FIFA.

The text can be seen as Infantino's response to harsh criticism lobbed at him by the head of the world body's independent audit committee, Domenico Scala, who quit in protest Saturday at what he called an attack on FIFA's reforms, and by top reform advocate Mark Pieth, who charged he was using the same authoritarian tactics as those used by his disgraced predecessor Sepp Blatter.

Scala quit over a measure that gave the FIFA Council control of the nomination of members of independent oversight bodies such as its ethics committee and audit and compliance committee.

The measure was approved at last week's congress in Mexico City, the first since Infantino replaced Blatter as president.

But Infantino insisted Thursday the measure adopted in Mexico was only "short-term", and "was necessary because in light of the new, advanced eligibility checks ahead of the Congress in Mexico, it was not possible to compile enough qualified candidates."

"Without this emergency measure no changes could have taken place until the next congress in May 2017. That is too long for reform to wait," Infantino said.

Pieth, a Swiss criminal law professor who has led reform drives at FIFA, charged Sunday that under Infantino, FIFA was "falling back to the worst times of Blatterism."

Pieth, who is close to Scala, also indicated that the FIFA boss pushed Scala to resign following a dispute over Infantino's proposed salary.

According to Pieth, who did not disclose his source for the information, Infantino was upset that FIFA's remuneration committee determined his annual salary at 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million, 1.8 million euros) without the prospect of a bonus.

"Our focus is on moving FIFA forwards. My salary should not be a central issue in this," Infantino said.

"From the start, I made clear that my salary will be a matter of public record and that it should be lower than the salaries of the previous FIFA president and Secretary General," he said, vowing to "announce it as soon as it has been confirmed."

"In this instance too, the facts will speak for themselves, not speculation."