FIFA

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 18: FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference after the  FIFA executive committee meeting at the FIFA headquarters on March 18, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Valeriano Di Domenico/Getty Images)
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FIFA: ‘Ludicrous’ to claim Infantino plot to remove Scala

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MILAN (AP) FIFA says it is “ludicrous” to claim President Gianni Infantino plotted to oust the official who oversaw the salary offer he refused to accept.

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FIFA responded Saturday to reports in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung which the German daily said were based on leaked details of FIFA Council meetings two weeks ago.

Infantino told council members a proposed salary of 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) was insulting, the newspaper claimed.

The salary offer was overseen by Domenico Scala, who resigned as the independent FIFA audit panel chairman in Mexico City on May 14.

Scala resigned one day after FIFA member federations decided to give Infantino’s Council power to fire elected leaders of independent audit and ethics committees.

FIFA says claims “this decision would be the result of a `plot’ is ludicrous.”

Former NBA exec named CONCACAF’s new secretary general

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MIAMI (AP) CONCACAF has appointed former NBA executive Philippe Moggio as its general secretary.

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The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said Moggio will take his position June 13.

Moggio previously served as senior vice president and managing director of Latin America and the Caribbean for the NBA.

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As CONCACAF general secretary, Moggio will be in charge of the organization’s daily business and operations. He succeeds Ted Howard, who has served in the role since last May.

CONCACAF has undergone changes in its governing structure since the sport’s global corruption scandal hit.

FIFA fires finance director Kattner over bonus payments

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - FEBRUARY 26:  FIFA Acting Secretary General Markus Kattner looks on prior to the Extraordinary FIFA Congress at Hallenstadion on February 26, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
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GENEVA (AP) FIFA has fired finance director and interim secretary general Markus Kattner after an internal investigation revealed he got irregular bonus payments worth millions of dollars.

Kattner was due the payments over a six-year period from 2008-14 from additions to his employment contract, a person familiar with the FIFA investigation said Monday.

The extra payments were signed off by then-President Sepp Blatter and then-secretary general Jerome Valcke, Kattner’s immediate boss in that period.

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“We don’t yet understand why these payments were made,” the person said on condition of anonymity as details of the investigation are confidential. “These contract provisions were not known widely and not to the appropriate officers at FIFA.”

It is unclear if the contracted payments which came to light last week could form part of a wider investigation of criminal mismanagement at FIFA conducted by Swiss federal prosecutors.

“We are not in a position to determine the legality of the contracts,” the person said, adding that “the appropriate authorities are aware of the issue.”

FIFA’s ethics committee is likely to now open an investigation against the 45-year-old German official, with charges of conflict of interest and disloyalty to FIFA among potential outcomes.

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Kattner joined FIFA as director of finance in 2003 and took the deputy secretary general title in 2007, the year Blatter hired Valcke for the top administrative job of world soccer’s governing body. Kattner was promoted in an interim role when Valcke was suspended last September for financial wrongdoing and then fired in January.

“Markus Kattner has been dismissed from his position effective immediately,” FIFA said in a statement Monday. “FIFA’s internal investigation uncovered breaches of his fiduciary responsibilities in connection with his employment contract.”

FIFA has already announced that United Nations official Fatma Samoura is due to start work next month as the new permanent secretary general.

Kattner’s alleged wrongdoing came to light last Friday, the person said, one week after Samoura’s hiring was announced by President Gianni Infantino.

The 45-year-old German official was at FIFA headquarters on Monday before his firing was announced.

His exit is unconnected with the timing of Samoura’s hiring and expected arrival at FIFA in June, the person said.

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“This is based on documentary evidence that is information which emerged in the last three days,” the person said, with no whistleblower involved in revealing the case.

FIFA is being subjected to an internal investigation led by United States-based legal firm Quinn Emanuel, which is working separately from investigations by federal prosecutors in the U.S. and Switzerland.

As a central figure overseeing FIFA finances for more than 12 years of Blatter’s presidency, Kattner’s name has been linked to allegations in the American and Swiss cases, and investigations of other officials by FIFA’s ethics committee.

Michel Platini has said that his invoice requesting a $2 million payment for backdated salary from FIFA was sent to Kattner in 2010. The now-banned UEFA president got the money approved by Blatter in February 2011.

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In that case, Platini had a four-year ban confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport this month, and Blatter awaits an appeal at CAS to challenge his six-year ban. They deny wrongdoing.

Kattner is also expected to be sought as a witness in German and Swiss investigations of unexplained payments between German organizers of the 2006 World Cup and FIFA.

When questioned at FIFA news conferences since October, Kattner has said he has been advised by FIFA not to comment on ongoing criminal and ethics cases.

FIFA appoints UN official as 1st female secretary general

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MEXICO CITY — FIFA broke new ground by appointing a Senegalese United Nations official as its first female and first non-European secretary general on Friday.

Fatma Samoura has no experience working in sports but FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes that will help it try to regain the trust and credibility of the world.

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“We want to embrace diversity and we believe in gender equality,” Infantino told the FIFA Congress in Mexico City.

The 54-year-old Samoura, who will replace the fired Jerome Valcke if she passes an eligibility check, is currently working in development for the U.N. in Nigeria.

“She is used to managing big organizations, big budgets, human resources, finance,” Infantino told FIFA’s membership. “She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA – somebody from outside not somebody from inside, not somebody from the past. Somebody new, somebody who can help us do the right thing in the future.”

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Samoura, who speaks French, English, Spanish, and Italian, appears to have no experience dealing with commercial deals and broadcasters – a key part of the job as FIFA’s top administrator.

FIFA said she coordinates the activities of around 2,000 staff members, and “monitors and evaluates the security, political, and socio-economic situation and trends in Africa’s most populous country.”

“She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organizations perform,” Infantino said. “Importantly for FIFA, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organization.”

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Also, FIFA lifted Indonesia’s suspension from world soccer. Indonesian national and club teams, referees, and officials were banned over government interference in the running of the national federation.

Indonesia was readmitted after the government agreed to end its suspension of the soccer federation, but the national team has missed out on qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup while banned.

Benin and Kuwait are suspended due to government interference in their federations’ independence.

Canada’s Montagliani becomes CONCACAF’s 3rd president in a year

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - FEBRUARY 26:  Victor Montagliani, member of the 2016 FIFA Reform Committee talks during the Extraordinary FIFA Congress at Hallenstadion on February 26, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
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MEXICO CITY (AP) Victor Montagliani was elected as CONCACAF’s third president in a year on Thursday, tasked with leading the recovery of the confederation following years of corruption scandals.

Montagliani, an insurance worker who heads the Canadian soccer federation, takes on a job that has seen three recent presidents indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in a sprawling FIFA bribery case.

Montagliani beat FIFA appeals panel chairman Larry Mussenden 25-16 in Thursday’s vote.

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“The walls are down,” Montagliani said. “It’s time to come together as one CONCACAF.”

Montagliani’s immediate priority is ensuring the Centennial Copa America runs smoothly in the United States next month. Montagliani has also pledged to resurrect a Caribbean league and tackle infrastructure challenges in Central America.

“Today’s modern world of football requires a leader that has both the intimidate knowledge of the business of football and football itself,” Montagliani told the 41 delegates in Mexico City.

Montagliani served last year on the FIFA reform panel that helped to rewrite the governing body’s rules after sprawling investigations into corrupt soccer officials, mostly from the Americas.

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CONCACAF, along with the South American confederation, had $10 million of funding from FIFA halted.

FIFA has agreed to free the funds but Montagliani now has to get it released by convincing the global body that CONCACAF has completely cleaned up its act and won’t be charged as an entity by U.S. authorities.

Jeffrey Webb, a Cayman Islands banker, was booted out of office after being arrested last May and his interim successor, Honduran lawyer Alfredo Hawit, was also indicted in December. They have both pleaded guilty in the U.S. and are awaiting sentencing.

Jack Warner, the president from 1990 to 2011, has also been indicted but he is still fighting extradition from Trinidad and Tobago.

In other votes at the CONCACAF Congress on Thursday, Cuban federation president Luis Hernandez and Sonia Bien-Aime, head of the Turks and Caicos federation, won votes for seats on the FIFA’s new-look council.