RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SCRIPT
VIDEO SHOWS: NEWS CONFERENCE AND INTERVIEW WITH FIFA DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL FOR ADMINISTRATION, ALASDAIR BELL, FILE FOOTAGE OF FIFA PRESIDENT, GIANNI INFANTINO, EXTERIORS OF FIFA HEADQUARTERS, FILE FOOTAGE OF SWISS ATTORNEY GENERAL, MICHAEL LAUBER
UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, SCOTLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 3, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFA DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL FOR ADMINISTRATION, ALASDAIR BELL, SAYING:
"The first point I want to make though, and I want to make it very clearly, is that there is no factual basis whatsoever for this criminal investigation. There is no description of criminal conduct of any kind that has been communicated to FIFA unless meeting the (Swiss) attorney general has somehow become a crime in Switzerland, which I rather doubt. We have no idea what it is that the FIFA president has done wrong or which could even remotely be described as criminal conduct. He (Gianni Infantino) went to see the attorney general because it's part of his job to do so. FIFA was involved and is still involved in many cases on going before the attorney general. Cases where we hope one day the office of the attorney general will actually make some progress. And we want to be transparent about this. We want to share this with the media and with the public because frankly, there is something a little bit grotesque and unfair about all this because we are 100% confident that will never be a criminal charge, far less a criminal conviction, against the FIFA president. But despite this, we have a situation, we have to acknowledge this, where objectively there is damage to both FIFA and to the FIFA president simply because of the existence of this criminal investigation and we think that's not right, it's not fair. Now we will cooperate fully with the investigation. We want to cooperate because we want the truth to come out and we want it to come out quickly."
2. WHITE FLASH
3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFA DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL FOR ADMINISTRATION, ALASDAIR BELL, SAYING:
"If someone opens a criminal investigation with all the media circus that goes with that, there needs to be a good reason and we don't have any reasons. That's why I say it, and I want to repeat it; there's no factual basis for this investigation. We have some anonymous complaints and that might be a little bit related to your question. We don't know who made all these complaints. This is the genesis I suppose of the investigation and maybe the people that made the complaints would like to see Gianni Infantino fall. OK, but here we're talking about a criminal investigation and I think that if there is or if there are people who would like to see him fall and who have orchestrated this I think it would be a function, a worthwhile and a good function, of the media to bring this out."
4. WHITE FLASH
5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFA DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL FOR ADMINISTRATION, ALASDAIR BELL, SAYING:
"It's not prohibited for the president of FIFA or the CEO of a company, or the chairman of a company to meet the attorney general of a country. I mean in which country would that be illegal? I mean you go to see the most senior law officer in the country to offer cooperation for the purposes of criminal investigation and then you end up being the subject of a criminal investigation yourself. I mean, what sort of message does this send out to companies in Switzerland. You better not go and see the attorney general otherwise you might be subject to a criminal investigation. This is why we have said, the FIFA president has said, and why we are saying that there is something kind of absurd about this. And then people start to try to draw parallels with Sepp Blatter and all the rest of it. It's got nothing to do with it. So, if there is something criminal, suggesting criminal behaviour we would really like to know from the special prosecutor what that is because we don't know. Nobody knows."
6. WHITE FLASH
7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFA DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL FOR ADMINISTRATION, ALASDAIR BELL, SAYING:
"Well, he will defend himself. The only reason we had the press conference today with the lawyers is because a criminal, a legal criminal procedure was opened and we wanted to talk through the specifics of that but make no mistake. I mean, you will definitely be hearing, the world's media will be hearing from Gianni Infantino. He's certainly not hiding behind the lawyers that's for sure. He would have been happy to be there and he will be there. So, I don't think the fact that he wasn't there today doesn't mean anything. You're going to hear from him. He wants to defend himself robustly and I'm sure he will."
8. WHITE FLASH
9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFA DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL FOR ADMINISTRATION, ALASDAIR BELL, SAYING:
"I think it will be very soon. I think it will be in a matter of days. How long the ethics committee takes to come to a decision on this matter, I don't know and that was obviously something that a lot of people are interested in - what will ethics do and we can really only speculate. But as I said today and as I said to one of the other interviews, we can only base ourselves on what we know and all we know is that a criminal investigation exists, it's been opened, we have not really been told why it's open in the sense of any description of criminal behaviour. What we know is that there were meetings with the attorney general. One of these meetings people don't remember the detail of it and based on the fact people don't remember the detail of it this special prosecutor says you therefore can't exclude the possibility that something criminal might have been discussed. OK, that's all we know."
BERN, SWITZERLAND (FILE - OCTOBER 16, 2015) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
10. GIANNI INFANTINO TALKING ON PHONE OUTSIDE HOTEL
PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - JUNE 4, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
12. FIFA PRESIDENT GIANNI INFANTINO GREETING PEOPLE AS HE ARRIVES AT HOTEL FOR AFC EXTRAORDINARY CONGRESS
13. INFANTINO TALKING TO AFC DELEGATES
13. INFANTINO TALKING
LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - FEBRUARY 1, 2016) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
14. VARIOUS OF INFANTINO WITH BALL ON PITCH AT WEMBLEY STADIUM, POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND (FILE - FEBRUARY 29, 2016) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
15. EXTERIOR OF FIFA HEADQUARTERS
16. FIFA SIGN ON EXTERIOR OF HEADQUARTERS
17. INFANTINO DRESSED IN FOOTBALL KIT AND CARRYING FOOTBALL, WALKING ALONGSIDE FABIO CAPELLO OF ITALY (WEARING COAT) AND OTHERS
18. INFANTINO WITH THE BALL, PASSES AND FORMER SPAIN INTERNATIONAL AND REAL MADRID PLAYER MICHEL SALGADO (ORANGE BIB) CROSSES IN FRONT OF INFANTINO
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND (FILE - SEPTEMBER 24, 2015) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
19. FLAGS OUTSIDE FIFA'S HEADQUARTERS
20. FLAG WITH LOGO, READING: "FIFA. MY GAME IS FAIR PLAY"
21. VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF FIFA HEADQUARTERS
BERN, SWITZERLAND (MAY 10, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
22. SWISS ATTORNEY GENERAL MICHAEL LAUBER ARRIVING AT NEWS CONFERENCE
23. VARIOUS OF NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS
24. LAUBER SPEAKING AT NEWS CONFERENCE
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND (FILE - SEPTEMBER 14, 2015) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
25. LAUBER ON STAGE AT THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROSECUTORS' CONFERENCE
26. LAUBER SPEAKING AT CONFERENCE (NOT A SOUNDBITE)
STORY: Global soccer body FIFA has described the decision by Swiss authorities to open criminal proceedings against its president Gianni Infantino last week as grotesque and absurd.
Swiss authorities said on Thursday (July 30) that proceedings had been launched against the current FIFA boss by a special prosecutor looking into meetings he had with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. Lauber and Infantino have already denied wrongdoing.
"There is no factual basis whatsoever for this criminal investigation," FIFA deputy general secretary Alasdair Bell told a news conference held by video on Monday (August 3)
"There is no description of criminal conduct of any kind that has been communicated to FIFA. There is something a little grotesque and unfair in all this because we are 100% confident there will never be a criminal charge against the FIFA president," he added.
"But we have a situation where, objectively, there is damage to both FIFA and the FIFA president simply because of the existence of this criminal investigation."
The AB-BA watchdog, which oversees the Attorney General's office (OAG), said Thursday in a statement that special prosecutor Stefan Keller had found indications of criminal conduct related to their meetings. Keller was appointed in June to review complaints against the two men and others.
The proceedings concerned abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and "incitement to these acts," it said.
"If someone opens a criminal investigation there needs to be a good reason and we don't have any reasons," said Bell. "We have some anonymous complaints but we don't know who made them."
FIFA said that, at the time of the meetings held in 2016 and 2017, the OAG was conducting investigations in more than 20 cases related to a scandal in which FIFA became embroiled before Infantino was elected president in 2016.
"You go to the most senior law officer in the country to offer information for a criminal investigation and then you end up being a subject of a criminal investigation yourself," said Bell.
"This is why we are saying there is something kind of absurd about this."
In an interview with Reuters afterwards, Bell said Infantino would be speaking to the media in the next few days to personally defend himself.
(Production: Tim Hart)