The Northern Hemisphere went nervously to sleep last night with the knowledge that the largest data leak in history had occurred.
The data leak came from an anonymous source and was relayed to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICU), among them our own ABC. The Panama Papers as they are colloquially referred to, will promote deeper digging into the underworld business dealings of FIFA and its merry men.
Although the leak originally occurred in 2015 the full depths of the millions of emails are only just starting to come to light. This data leak has already been responsible for the resignation and implication of a number of world leaders and will now cast its shadowy finger at the world of football.
The files were leaked from a Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonesca and detailed the financial dealings of some of the world’s most powerful people, including, yes you guessed it, newly appointed FIFA officials.
Mossack Fonesca has offices all around the world and is responsible for offshore investments and financial services, it also seems they are known for setting up ‘shell’ companies with obvious tax evasion benefits. Furthermore, it seems that some players have been using the offshore ‘shell’ companies to bank money from their lucrative sponsorship and image royalties.
Already, Lionel Messi, Michael Platini (UEFA) and the lawyer for the FIFA Ethics Committee, Juan Pedro Damiani have been named, leading to the latter’s resignation from his position. Damiani has worked on the FIFA ethics committee since 2003 and was involved in deciding the suspension of Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA president. Now, Damiani’s law firm has been linked to previously indicted FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo.
A spokesman for FIFA told CNN: "We confirm that on March 19 the investigatory chamber of the FIFA independent Ethics Committee was informed by the chairman about becoming recently aware of a business relationship between Damiani, and Eugenio Figueredo Aguerre."
Since being elected in February new FIFA president Gianni Infantino has spoken repeatedly about a "new era" for football, but the leaked documents have put the focus of the worlds press back on FIFA corruption claims. Infantino’s name has now been mentioned in connection with questionable TV rights sales in South America although he has dismissed claims of any wrong doing.
"I am dismayed and will not accept that my integrity is being doubted by certain areas of the media, especially given that UEFA has already disclosed in detail all facts regarding these contracts," said Infantino.
The investigation continues with Figueredo reportedly agreeing to a plea bargain deal to reduce his punishment in the FIFA corruption scandal, which could help him reduce his potential jail time.
By Paul Brown, on location in Dubai