FIFA President Gianni Infantino dismissed the row over ethics appointments as a storm in a teacup ©Getty Images

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has dismissed suggestions that replacing ethics officials Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbély will harm the ongoing reform process, claiming their removal should not be considered a "tragedy".

Eckert was the head of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee, while Borbély chaired the Investigatory Chamber, and the two officials warned their departure would hinder the fight against corruption.

The pair, involved in the cases against numerous officials, including disgraced former President Sepp Blatter and ex-secretary general Jérôme Valcke, said yesterday that "hundreds" of cases were still under investigation.

Colombia's Maria Claudia Rojas has taken over from the Swiss, while German judge Eckert has been replaced by Vassilios Skouris of Greece.

Borbély also said that there was "no period" of transition between the previous Ethics Committee and the new one which was voted in with a 97 per cent majority by FIFA's membership at the Congress.

The controversial decision, made by the FIFA Council, called the democracy of world football's governing body into question and was even criticised by Germany's Reinhard Griendel, who sits on the ruling body.

But Infantino insisted the issue had been blown out of proportion and was a "storm in a teacup". 

"I have no issue with either Eckert or Borbely, everything is open, clear and free," Infantino said.

"I am probably the most scrutinised person in the world.

"What happened is a simple question of procedure in the sense that mandates come to an end.

"The confederations propose to the Council some candidates and we have received many high-level candidates, which is reassuring and shows that the reputation of FIFA is improving and is getting better because it is also a question of trust of people who are coming in in FIFA.

"Of course there are pending cases, they will continue, the people who are coming in are serious people and have proven amply their qualities.

"The Congress decided by 97 per cent to appoint these new members.

"I do not think we should make a tragedy out of it.

"Democratic processes have to be accepted by everyone and we are going forward with confidence."

Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbély claimed the reform process would be hindered by their respective removals ©Getty Images
Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbély claimed the reform process would be hindered by their respective removals ©Getty Images

Infantino has also been criticised for not renewing the mandate of Miguel Maduro, the Portuguese who was chosen as chairman of the Governance Committee last year and was hailed as a crucial appointment in FIFA's bid to rebuild its shattered reputation.

The Swiss seemed to imply the reason for Maduro leaving his role was because of his European nationality.

This comes despite the fact that Tomaž Vesel, who is from Slovenia, was the only chairman of the five Independent Committees to retain his position for another four-year term.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that Maduro, who has been replaced by former chief justice for the Indian High Court Justice Mukul Mudgal, was ousted due to his decision to block Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko from standing for re-election to the Council.

Mutko, the former Sports Minister, was barred from entering the race due to his role within the Russian Government.

"This is a process, he was elected until the next Congress," said Infantino.

"We are a worldwide organisation, so some of the comments we were receiving was that, under the previous administration, a lot of people were Swiss or German.

"And now a Governance Committee member is also European, so we have to take them into account.

"What happens in four years? This will be decided again.

"When you have take important decisions, it is pretty normal you receive pressures from everywhere.

"The Governance committee and the chairman Mr Maduro took the decisions they had to take and wanted to take.

"It is about representation of the world. 

"It is a global assessment that needs to be made and has been made by the Council."

The decisions regarding FIFA's Independent Committees made by the governing body's Council were all unanimously accepted by the Congress, with little explanation given for the proposals.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, who stood against Infantino for the FIFA Presidency last year, said he was unhappy at the way in which the appointments were dealt with.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein was unhappy with the way the Ethics Committee decisions were made by Gianni Infantino ©Getty Images
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein was unhappy with the way the Ethics Committee decisions were made by Gianni Infantino ©Getty Images

"Obviously, their term ran out, but having said that they are in the middle of conducting their defences and cases and what this is going to do is delay the process." Prince Ali, the head of the Jordanian Football Association, said.

"To be honest, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

"There seemed to be many reasons I am hearing why it was done but we were not given an explanation and that is the basic right of the Congress to know what the reasons are.

"That reminds me of things that have happened in the past.

"We need sponsors and we need to bring faith back into the organisation and this kind of action has the opposite affect.

"In any case, what’s done is done and our only hope is that the new ethics body continues as soon as possible with the work that has already started."