— Published 13 March 2023

Qatar would have spied on Lauber and Infantino

The 2022 soccer World Cup is now history, but the revelations continue. The Sunday edition of the Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ am Sonntag) asserts that Qatar allegedly spied on an informal meeting in June 2017 in Bern, Switzerland, between Gianni Infantino and former Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber (pictured above). Microphones were allegedly hidden in a conference room at the Schweizerhof Hotel, a luxury hotel owned by the Qataris. The meeting between the Swiss magistrate in charge of investigating suspicions of corruption in the awarding of the 2022 World Cup and the head of FIFA took place after the Gulf state was awarded the hosting of the global tournament. Qatar would have spied, according to the NZZ am Sonntag, by employing former CIA agents. The Swiss daily claims to have obtained “official secret documents that attest to this spying operation.” Unsurprisingly, Qatar has issued a blanket denial. “These allegations are a new attempt to spread false information about Qatar and to damage its reputation, said a statement issued by the government press office. We reject these allegations and are investigating all possible legal actions. It is obvious that the numerous defamation campaigns against Qatar in Europe continue unabated, in French, Swiss and other European media.” The same denial was made by Michael Lauber’s lawyer, who assured the NZZ am Sonntag that his client did not know that he was spied on, and had not been blackmailed after this meeting. The Swiss media, for its part, explains that its sources have evoked an operation with the code name “Project Matterhorn”. Its purpose would have been to put pressure on the public prosecutor to hide his contacts with Gianni Infantino from his superiors. Michael Lauber was removed from the investigation in June 2019 precisely because of his undeclared contacts in 2016 and 2017 with the FIFA president.