Gianni Infantino insists there was nothing untoward about settlement agreements UEFA struck with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino says it was his job to “seek solutions” instead of kicking clubs out of competitions following accusations UEFA let Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain avoid more severe Financial Fair Play (FFP) sanctions when he was the organisation’s general secretary.
There have been claims this week by French outlet Mediapart and primarily reported by Der Spiegel as part of a Football Leaks investigative series that Infantino discussed deals with PSG and City when working for UEFA.
Both City and PSG are accused of having extra money pumped into them from their ownership groups through over-valued sponsorship deals.
The two clubs reached settlement agreements with UEFA in 2014 for FFP breaches, but it was claimed by Der Spiegel that City were allowed to come up with their own punishment, while PSG got off lightly.
City insisted the report’s aim was to damage their reputation, while PSG have denied any wrongdoing.
But Infantino acknowledged he would always try to find a compromise rather than simply banning a club from the Champions League, adamant that settlement agreements are part of the normal disciplinary process.
When asked by Swiss publication Blick if he had been involved in “backroom politics”, Infantino said: “Look, that’s something that can be portrayed either way.
“Our goal at UEFA was always to keep the clubs with us, not to kick them out, so you negotiate and seek solutions. That was my job as general secretary.
“The fact is, in the history of FFP, 30 violations have been detected. With all but one club there were agreements – agreements and negotiations are expressly allowed.
“And then it [the agreement] is approved by an independent body of absolute professionals, so you could have refused or tried for ‘x’ number of changes. Fifty top people from clubs, lawyers and so on looked at the cases – you mean, could I make something [a secret deal] in the background? Impossible.”
Infantino, who became FIFA president in February 2016, insists he would do exactly the same if he had his time again.
“Yes absolutely,” he said. “The clubs were still additionally bailed, and it is expressed in the statutes that you can put the case in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS]. Nobody did that.
“FFP was the great success story of UEFA over the last 10 years. European club football was about to be hit against the wall.”
Another claim from Football Leaks suggested Bayern Munich were hoping to found a breakaway European ‘Super League’ with other major clubs, though Infantino is adamant he has no concerns of this ever happening.
“I cannot imagine a Bundesliga without Bayern Munich,” he added. “I’ve been in football for 20 years and the idea of a Super League has been around again and again.
“It’s natural to want to get the most out of it. That’s why we want to make a [new] Club World Cup, which is better than the possible Super League. Everything would stay together and no one wants to split.
“We must prevent that, because we believe that football must remain within its structures.”