Infantino, reported to have been interrogated on Friday, denies any wrongdoing but has been accused of unlawful hiring and firing, using unauthorised private jets and inflating his expenses – all designed to cement his power base.
It is believed 18 interviews have already been undertaken by ethics personnel following weeks of rumours that Infantino was under preliminary investigation. If it is concluded there is enough evidence to launch formal proceedings, he could face preliminary suspension after less than five months in the job.
FIFA has been hit by a spate of high-profile departures in recent weeks, most of them orchestrated in behind-the-scenes manouvering. Earlier this month, two more senior personnel were shown the door in the latest purge aimed at suppressing opposition to Infantino’s increasingly shaky presidency.
The head of FIFA’s travel department, Severin Podolak, and the chief of the general secretary’s office, Christoph Schmidt, both left the organisation after allegedly becoming whistleblowers by passing files to ethics chiefs about Infantino’s suspect conduct.
Infantino’s supporters reject any suggestion that he is covering his tracks by getting rid of opponents. But a raft of decision makers have already been forced out including audit and compliance chief Domenico Scala and finance boss Markus Kattner.
Their exits preceded a leaked 11-page FIFA internal memo which listed a number of irregularities and suggested Infantino’s conduct represented a possible conflict of interest.
When asked to comment on the latest twist to the narrative surrounding Infantino, FIFA said any changes in personnel were as a result of internal restructuring.
“As in any organisation requiring thorough restructuring new positions will be created by the new leadership as part of the programme of reforms adopted by the congress and (a) few positions will be terminated as they no longer fit the organisation’s overall restructuring process,” the statement said.
But the Mail on Sunday has been given a different version of events, one that puts the official Infantino appointed as FIFA’s first ever female general secretary, Fatma Samoura, directly at the heart of the two latest dismissals.
Whether acting alone or under instructions, it is understood Samoura, who promised to be her own person and not do Infantino’s bidding, challenged Podolak about being in contact with the ethics committee. Intriguingly, it is not known how Samoura – or Infantino for that matter – knew that the Podolak and Schmidt had dealings with the ethics committee, contacts that are supposed to be confidential.
On Saturday, it emerged that in all, four whistleblowers have come forward with information about Infantino who replaced the disgraced Sepp Blatter in February promising to “restore the image and respect of FIFA.”
As well as Podolak and Schmidt, both Kattner and Jin (sic) Huegin, a former high-ranking compliance official, are understood to have been in contact with ethics investigators who are feverishly studying the files this weekend, with a decision imminent.
“It could be made early in the week,” said one source familiar with ethics proceedings. “I would say the chances of Infantino being investigated are 50-50.” – DailyMail