Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called for his successor, Gianni Infantino, to be suspended by the global body after criminal proceedings were opened against Infantino in Switzerland.
Swiss authorities said on Thursday that proceedings had been launched against the current FIFA boss by special prosecutor Stefan Keller, who is looking into meetings Infantino had with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.
Lauber, who offered his resignation last week, and Infantino have denied wrongdoing.
“For me, the situation is clear, that the FIFA ethics committee has to open a case against Mr Infantino and so it has to suspend him,” Blatter said in a statement to Reuters.
Blatter himself was suspended and later banned by FIFA’s ethics committee after he became the subject of criminal proceedings in Switzerland in 2015. The investigation is still ongoing and Blatter, who has denied wrongdoing, has not been charged.
Infantino said last month “this whole thing is quite absurd”.
“To meet with the head prosecutor or attorney general of Switzerland is perfectly legitimate and it’s perfectly legal,” the FIFA president said on June 25 during a news conference held online.
Lauber offered to resign only minutes before a federal court upheld allegations that he lied about a meeting he had with Infantino during a sprawling investigation into football corruption.
The internal disciplinary case against Lauber focused on a meeting he had with Infantino in June 2017 at a hotel in Bern, at which the prosecutor took no notes. They later both said they could not recall their discussion at what was their third meeting in a 15-month period.
“On the basis of general life experience, such a case of collective amnesia is an aberration,” the federal court ruling said last week.
Infantino gained the FIFA presidency in the fallout from the investigations that erupted around the governing body in 2015.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who had already announced plans to resign in the wake of arrests of dozens of officials, was banned from world football.
Michel Platini, the favourite to succeed Blatter and then serving as UEFA president, was also suspended, which ended his chances of leading FIFA.
In the void, Infantino, who led the UEFA administration as general secretary, was elected as FIFA head in 2016, beating Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman.
The Bahraini is senior vice-president of FIFA so would be in line to replace Infantino temporarily if the Swiss-born 50-year-old was suspended due to the criminal case.