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Infantino's decision to reside in Qatar draws flak from Blatter

Sepp Blatter

Bengaluru/Doha, January 22: Former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter has taken a dig at incumbent Gianni Infantino's decision to temporarily shift his base to 2022 FIFA World Cup host nation Qatar.

On Thursday (January 20), the game's global governing body confirmed that its president Infantino has moved to Qatari capital city of Doha on a temporary basis to oversee the build-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later his year.

"As communicated in October 2021, the FIFA President informed the FIFA Council that he would divide his presence between Zurich, Doha and across the world, in order to deliver his presidential duties and be closer to the FIFA World Cup," FIFA said in a statement.

"As he did during the FIFA Arab Cup, he will work alongside other FIFA staff in our office in Doha, when required, until the conclusion of the tournament. For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Infantino has residency, and remains liable to pay taxes, in Switzerland," the FIFA statement added.

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However, Blatter, who had to quit as FIFA chief following a spate of scandals slammed his successor for his decision, calling it incomprehensible and outrageous while talking to French radio on Thursday.

"He is not a good president, and I must say it. He is not doing his job properly," Blatter told Europe 1 Sport.

"I would never have thought of going to live in the capital where we play the World Cup. The place of the president of FIFA is the place where FIFA has its headquarters, in Zurich," Blatter added.

"I can't say that it's outrageous. But I can say that it's incomprehensible that he has gone to live there with his family. It leaves a bitter taste," the 85-year-old said.

"It's an abandonment of responsibility, because he must stay where FIFA has its headquarters, especially at a time when we've internal problems," added Blatter, who was the FIFA president from 1998 and 2015 before being forced to stand down and banned from football for eight years, reduced later to six, over ethics breaches.

In a series of tweets, Blatter criticised Infantino.

"Gianni Infantino moving to Qatar doesn't surprise me. Apparently he doesn't feel comfortable in Switzerland.

"He wants to move FIFA's headquarters to Paris and has the intention of outsourcing part of the administration to the United States," Blatter tweeted.

Infantino's decision to relocate to Doha has drawn flak from many quarters as the FIFA chief has faced criminal investigations in recent years in Switzerland over his dealings with former Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.

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The FIFA chief has always denied any wrongdoing and last year said the meetings between the two were in no way secret and most certainly not illegal and the game's global governing body has been backing him all along.

FIFA, which had long been denying that its president was residing in Doha before being forced to confirm following a probe by a Swiss newspaper, claimed that Infantino is still paying taxes in Switzerland.

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Swiss daily Blick revealed that Infantino was living in Doha, where he rents a house and two of his four daughters attend school in the build-up to the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East and the entire Arab world from November 21 to December 18.

Qatar is building eight stadiums for the 28-day affair, which is going to be the shortest World Cup in FIFA history.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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Story first published: Saturday, January 22, 2022, 9:30 [IST]
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