(WFI) Gianni Infantino has ended the 13-year FIFA career of deputy secretary general Markus Kattner, firing him for breaching financial ethics rules.
The 45-year-old is alleged to have awarded himself bonuses running to millions of dollars over a number of years.
FIFA issued a three-paragraph statement to say that Kattner, finance director since joining world football’s governing body in 2003, was “dismissed with immediate effect”.
“FIFA’s internal investigation uncovered breaches of his fiduciary responsibilities in connection with his employment contract,” the statement said.
FIFA’s ethics committee is now expected to launch an investigation into Kattner. “FIFA will not comment further on any of the details, but will continue its cooperation with the relevant authorities,” the federation added.
Kattner took over as acting general secretary after Jerome Valcke was banned from football for 12 years for financial misconduct relating to World Cup ticket sales, travel expenses and destruction of evidence.
The German official’s contract including bonus payments was unvetted by the relevant FIFA committees, according to reports.
FIFA confirmed earlier this month that Kattner was aware of the $2 million “disloyal” payment made by disgraced former president Sepp Blatter to ex-UEFA boss Michel Platini, which led to four-year bans for the pair. However, this is not thought to be linked to his sacking.
In March, three weeks after he was elected as Blatter’s successor, Infantino told a press conference that he would not tolerate the misdemeanours of top officials scarring FIFA’s scandal-battered credibility further.
“I cannot change the past but I can influence the future,” he told reporters following a FIFA Executive Committee meeting, saying he was aware that FIFA was “operating still” amid ongoing investigations by US and Swiss authorities into decades-long corruption at the federation. “It must be very clear that anyone who abuses FIFA and football to enrich themselves will not only be excluded from football but you will have to give the money back,” he said.
Since Infantino’s election, Kattner was on the way out anyway, following the new FIFA president’s stated intention to appoint a non-European as secretary general as part of his governance shake-up. UN official Fatma Samoura was appointed to the position earlier this month.
Kattner may have been targeted by Infantino in his bid to clean house and to distance himself from the scandal-hit regime of Blatter and Valcke’s leadership.
FIFA’s $550 million deficit for the past year due to massive lawyer bills and failure to attract new sponsors and renew other contracts did not help Kattner’s future at FIFA. Infantino had earmarked getting FIFA’s finances in order as a major priority in his first weeks in office, which may have included launching an internal probe into the German’s contract and payments.
At the FIFA Congress in February, Kattner spoke about FIFA’s financial crisis and the scandals that have engulfed the federation, speaking of a “general uncertainly affecting the morale of the team”.
Kattner even had the temerity to remark to congress that “the goal is to be considered a modern trusted and professional sports organization by 2018”.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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