New Fifa president Gianni Infantino has been dragged into the Panama Papers scandal dating back to when he helped secure TV rights whilst at Uefa, the game's governing body for Europe. Infantino has issued a statement in which he describes being dismayed that his "integrity is being doubted."
However the news will also cause dismay to everyone within Fifa's echelons upper ranks. Fifa has been hoping to start afresh after years of having the organisation's own integrity doubted.
The allegations relate to Infantino's time as director of legal services at Uefa when he was involved in negotiations with two businessmen, Hugo Jinkis and his son Mariano Jinkis. The two have now been placed under house arrest in Argentina and face possible extradition to the US on corruption charges.
The contracts in question, from 2003 to 2006, relate to the selling of TV rights to South American markets by Uefa to a company called Cross Trading, which is a subsidiary of another company, Full Play, owned by Hugo Jankis. Cross Trading sold the rights on to broadcaster Teleamazonas for a vast profit. Leaked papers from Mossack Fonseca appear to show the contracts between Uefa and Cross Trading were reportedly co-signed by Infantino. However he and Uefa deny any wrong-doing.
"There is no suggestion whatsoever of any Uefa official or marketing partner taking any form of bribe or kickback, whether in relation to this tiny deal, or any other commercial transaction," said Uefa. "The TV contract in question was signed by Gianni Infantino since he was one of several Uefa directors empowered to sign contracts at the time. As you will have observed, the contract was also co-signed by another Uefa director. It's standard practice."
Infantino was elected president of Fifa following the banning of Sepp Blatter over alleged corruption claims. Fifa has been embroiled in corruption scandals for years and it was hoped the election of the Swiss-Italian would enable football's ruling body to make a fresh start. That already seems like wishful thinking.