Fifa’s corruption probes criticised, but no action on World Cup bids

A REPORT by Fifa’s anti-corruption adviser yesterday criticised past investigations by the governing body, but stopped short of calling for probes into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to be re-opened.

Swiss professor Mark Pieth’s report was presented to Fifa’s executive committee, in which he branded as “unsatisfactory” past investigations into corruption, with the sanctions imposed both “insufficient and clearly unconvincing”. Fifa has responded by agreeing to set up a revamped ethics committee, and a separate compliance and audit committee. A decision on proposals to scrap the British Fifa vice-presidency have been deferred to next year, however.

The new two-chamber ethics committee – one part to investigate allegations and the other part to judge cases – will also vet Fifa officials, while the audit and compliance committee will set the salaries for Fifa executives and have other financial controls. The chairmen of both chambers of the ethics committee will be independent – they will be chosen by the Fifa Congress in May from a list of nominations put together by Pieth.

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A series of corruption allegations have rocked Fifa over the last 18 months concerning both World Cup bidding and last year’s presidential election, which led to candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam being banned from all football activity for life.

The report by the Independent Governance Committee (IGC), which Pieth heads, states: “The IGC has received documents and has conducted a hearing on the ways Fifa has been dealing with past misconduct. Clearly, the existing procedures are – in the opinion of the IGC – insufficient to meet the challenges of a major global sport governing body. This has led to unsatisfactory reactions to persistent allegations.

“In particular, the IGC has identified a lack of pro-active and systematic investigation of allegations. In some instances, allegations were insufficiently investigated and where sanctions were imposed, they are at times insufficient and clearly unconvincing.”

Fifa president Sepp Blatter responded by announcing the new committees. He added: “The executive committee unanimously agreed to this new approach in our efforts for more transparency and integrity. The new ethics committee will have the possibility to initiate investigation in case of credible allegations.”

The International FA Board, the game’s law-making body, will be asked to bring in its own reforms to make it more democratic. It currently comprises of the four British associations, which have one vote each, and Fifa, which has four. Blatter added: “The IFAB is valuable and we will ask IFAB to make a reform itself for a more democratic, clear transparent structure. We don’t want to take it away, we want to take it inside the Fifa structure.”

Blatter was asked what would happen to IFAB and the other British privileges if Scotland voted for independence in a 2013 referendum. He replied: “Who can foresee the future and history of what will happen with Scotland and some other countries?”

Britain’s current Fifa vice-president is Jim Boyce from Northern Ireland – the other three associations have admitted the time may have come for the position to be scrapped. Boyce confirmed, however, that there would be no move on that until next year.