BC-SOC--FIFA-Infantino's Friend,151

Swiss special counsel clears friend of FIFA head Infantino

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A special counsel's office in Switzerland says it has closed an investigation into a regional prosecutor's links with FIFA president Gianni Infantino. A criminal proceeding for possible passive corruption was opened against Rinaldo Arnold He is Infantino's childhood friend. The special counsel's office says it has dismissed suspicions Arnold accepted benefits and FIFA hospitality in connection with his work.

NIDWALDEN, Switzerland (AP) — A special counsel's office in Switzerland says it has closed an investigation into a regional prosecutor's links with FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

After reports in the "Football Leaks" series last November, a criminal proceeding for possible passive corruption was opened against Rinaldo Arnold, a childhood friend of Infantino.

Arnold accepted invitations to be a FIFA guest at last year's World Cup in Russia, and at the body's annual congress in Mexico City in May 2016.

The chief prosecutor in the Upper Valais region was also linked to brokering meetings between Infantino and Swiss federal prosecutors who have investigated FIFA for more than four years, before Infantino was elected in 2016.

The special counsel's office says it has dismissed suspicions Arnold accepted benefits in connection with his work.

Infantino said in November he broke no FIFA rules by extending invitations to a friend.

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