Swiss parliament narrowly reappoints top prosecutor despite FIFA probe

The Swiss parliament on Wednesday voted to extend the mandate of attorney general Michael Lauber, despite suspicion of misconduct in his handling of the massive corruption investigation targeting FIFA.

Swiss parliament narrowly reappoints top prosecutor despite FIFA probe

With just 129 out of a possible 243 parliamentary votes in favour, Lauber saw his mandate renewed for an additional four years come January. 

The parliament's judiciary commission had earlier this month recommended not handing the 53-year-old prosecutor a second term after investigators opened a disciplinary investigation looking into a series of secret meetings that he had with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in the midst of a corruption probe into football's world governing body.

That recommendation came after the Swiss Federal Criminal Court ruled in June that he had committed professional misconduct by failing to report and document several meetings with Infantino, and ordered him to recuse himself from the case.

Two Lauber-Infantino meetings were exposed last year by “Football Leaks”, a cross-border investigation by several European news organisations.

The body that oversees Lauber's office, known as the AS-MPC, has said that those two 2016 contacts, held shortly after Infantino took charge of FIFA from the disgraced Sepp Blatter, were “not problematic”. But during the inquiry into those two meetings, Lauber told the oversight body that he had had no other informal contacts with Infantino.

Then Swiss media reported a third Lauber-Infantino meeting in January 2017. Switzerland's FIFA investigation concerns alleged misconduct that occurred before Infantino replaced Blatter in 2016.

Lauber's office has steadfastly defended the Infantino meetings, insisting they were logistically necessary given the scope of the FIFA graft probe.

Switzerland has pursued a number of cases since a raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich in May 2015 led to the arrests of a several FIFA executives and exposed a corrupt underbelly in world football.

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Everything you need to know about Schwingen in Switzerland

Have you heard of Schwingen? Switzerland's national sport involves jute shorts, sawdust, and a whole lot of wrestling,

Everything you need to know about Schwingen in Switzerland

While relatively unknown outside of Switzerland, and largely concentrated in the country’s German-speaking cantons, Schwingen is Switzerland’s homegrown form of wrestling.

In a sawdust ring, two competitors aim to throw each other onto their backs, with both shoulders touching the ground. Each time this is achieved, a point is awarded to the victor.

All this throwing is achieved by grabbing the leather belt attached to the jute shorts worn by the combatants.

As simple as this sounds, there are several styles of Schwingen and hundreds of recorded holds and grips. Size and strength play a significant role in Schwingen, but flexibility cannot be discounted as a factor in determining a champion. 

A proud history 

Like any martial art, the origins of Schwingen are lost to history, but it’s safe to say that just like the Schuhplattler of neighbouring Bavaria – that’s the slappy lederhosen dance – it’s been around for thousands of years, practised by mountain tribes, and later shepherds tending mountain flocks.

The first depictions in art date from the 13th century and the first written records from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, when local church authorities sought to crack down on the rowdy celebrations that these competitions were associated with.

Indeed, Schwingen was massively restricted for hundreds of years, under the fear that it was leading to drunkenness and all manner of other sinning. The large majority of Schwingen meets at this time took place in isolated areas, far from prying eyes. 

All of this changed with the arrival of industrialization, railways and tourism. With many flocking to rural Switzerland for the beauty of outdoor spaces and quaint local customs, Schwingen was brought back to the cities by fascinated spectators and became so popular that it needed to be codified and organized to regulate it.

To this end, the Schwingerverbandes, or Federal Wrestling Association was founded in 1895.

Read More: Schwingen: Everything you need to know about Switzerland’s ‘national sport’

More popular than ever 

Schwingen is now a very popular sport within Switzerland, practised by a dedicated core of amateurs and professionals, and watched by far, far more,

Experiencing a further boom throughout the 20th century, boosted by broadcast media, it became mass entertainment. It’s a televised sport, revolving around several key meets, at the canton and federal levels. In addition to youth Schwingen, there have been women’s competitions since 1980.

The Federal Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival is the apogee of competitive Schwingen, held every three years – think of it like a Swiss Olympics. The next will be in Glarnerland in 2025. 

Another massive event for Schwingen fans is the Unspunnenfest, held every twelve years in Interlaken. The next of these will be held in 2029.

Crowned in 2022, Joel Wicki from the canton of Luzern is the current Swiss Schwingen champion. Topping out at just over six feet, and weighing in at 110kg, he’s far from the biggest contestants – but then again, it’s not always strength that matters in a Schwingen bout. 

Want to get involved? 

While Schwingen isn’t exactly the kind of thing that international visitors generally involve themselves in, there is a fully packed calendar of events throughout the year for spectators.

These range from indoor events in the winter months, to the larger outdoor competitions during the summer. You can find out more on the Federal Wrestling Association’s website.

You can also track Schwingen competitions, and find out where to watch them on TV or online, via