MILAN, May 28, (AP): An alleged plot by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to oust the official who oversaw the salary offer he refused to accept has been dismissed as “ludicrous” by world soccer’s governing body.
FIFA responded to reports in Saturday’s edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung which the German daily said were based on leaked details of FIFA Council meetings held this month.
Infantino told council members a proposed salary of 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) was insulting, the newspaper claimed.
A rare release of talks inside FIFA’s ruling panel adds to tensions around the scandal-battered soccer body less than three months into a presidency that Infantino pledged will restore trust after 17 years of Sepp Blatter’s controversial leadership.
Since Infantino declared FIFA’s crisis over on May 13, audit committee chairman Domenico Scala of Switzerland resigned in protest and long-time finance director Markus Kattner of Germany was fired over alleged irregular bonus payments totaling several million dollars.
Infantino’s own seven-figure salary expectations appear a factor in the breakdown of his working relationship with Scala, who oversaw a salary offer that was a significant cut on the $3 million base salary Blatter was paid as FIFA president in 2015.
The German daily reported that, in Mexico City this month, the Infantino-chaired ruling panel discussed ways to remove Scala, who led a three-member FIFA compensation panel that agreed the salary offer before the presidential election in February.
British FIFA vice president David Gill led criticism of the alleged tactics to undermine Scala, according to leaked details of the meeting.
Scala resigned in Mexico City two weeks ago, one day after FIFA member federations decided to give Infantino’s Council power to fire elected leaders of independent audit and ethics committees.
“Any allegation that this decision would be the result of a ‘plot’ is ludicrous,” FIFA said Saturday, in a statement that did not directly address the details of the salary dispute.
FIFA and Infantino have not denied the $2 million offer, which was revealed by former FIFA anti-corruption adviser Mark Pieth. He helped bring Scala to FIFA in 2012 to oversee its billion-dollar annual revenue and spending.
Two weeks ago, FIFA said it was “dismayed to learn” that Pieth had any information about compensation matters.
Gill declined to comment on FIFA business in Milan where he and Infantino will attend the Champions League final on Saturday.
Infantino’s staff did not make him available for an interview. He has pledged to announce his salary when his contract is formally agreed.
Scala did not respond to a request to comment Saturday.
Infantino had declared FIFA’s crisis to be over in his keynote speech in Mexico City to world soccer leaders, who have seen dozens of former colleagues implicated in corruption over the past year during investigations by American and Swiss federal prosecutors and FIFA ethics investigators.
The sweeping scandal led to the FIFA ethics committee banning Blatter and his expected successor at FIFA, Michel Platini, the UEFA president. Infantino, then UEFA’s general secretary, entered the FIFA election race in place of his boss and won.