Ex-Fifa official says Infantino sought to prevent Mutko's exclusion from council
Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, sought to influence the decision to bar Vitaly Mutko, the Russian deputy prime minister, from retaining his seat on the federation’s council, according to a former Fifa official.
In an appearance before the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee today, Miguel Maduro, the former chair of the Fifa governance committee, said that Infantino (pictured, left) “expressed great concern with that decision” because of potential consequences for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
In March, Mutko (right), the head of the Russian Football Union and the organising committee for the World Cup, was blocked by the governance committee from seeking re-election to the council on the grounds that his role as deputy prime minister contravened Fifa’s rules on political neutrality, although it is claimed Infantino believed the rule should not apply in this case,
Maduro, who was controversially dismissed in May, after only eight months in his role at Fifa, told the members of Parliament that the federation's general secretary Fatma Samoura had said the decison to exclude Mutko "was extremely problematic and we needed to find a solution to declare Mr Mutko eligible.
"She said that the World Cup would be a disaster and that as a consequence the continued presidency [of Infantino] would be in question."
Despite the alleged pressure from the Fifa president and general secretary, Mutko was blocked from standing for the council at the congress in Bahrain, where Maduro's departure was also confirmed.
Maduro had been appointed in 2016, following the adoption of various reforms, to help boost Fifa’s reputation after a series of damaging scandals that implicated a long list of officials, including the now-banned former president Sepp Blatter.
However, the Portuguese politician and corporate governance expert, said today that the federation was still reluctant to go as far as it should.
He told the committee: “There is a culture in the institution… that is extremely resistant to accountability, to independent scrutiny, to transparency, to prevention of conflicts of interest.”
Maduro was dismissed at the same time that Fifa contentiously replaced Cornel Borbely and Hans-Joachim Eckert, its ethics committee chiefs, who had overseen disciplinary proceedings and bans for various officials in recent years.
Maduro said: “If they wanted in Fifa to really have independent scrutiny, they ought to have protected us. I think that ultimately, he [Infantino] chose to politically survive.”