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Who needs ethics? Fifa kicks out the reformers while the FA and UK media smile at the antics of funny foreigners.

By Tony Attwood

Have you heard the one about Fifa reforming itself?  It’s a story that is much liked in the English media as it encourages the thought that the world cup in Russia is going to be a jolly good thing, with no violence, no corruption, and beautiful football throughout.

Which makes it rather unfortunate that on Tuesday the Council of the Football World Federation dismissed the two chairmen of the independent ethics committee: the Munich judge Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely of Switzerland.   Throughout Europe this is being called a “sports-political coup” bearing the signature of Gianni Infantino and is becoming front page news.

The point about the story is that Eckert and Borbely have been challenging Infantino since since he took office at Fifa 14 months ago and that battle has been heating up – although of course if you are primarily reliant on English media there is only a limited amount of this you will be hearing.

Both men, apart from being the most eminent members of the ethics committee had indicated that they wanted to continue.  These are highly recognised reformers widely acknowledged in Europe as the key players in dealing with the endemic corruption within Fifa, and both said that they had a long way to go with their rigorous investigation into Fifa’s approach to corruption.

What makes their removal even more interesting is that the council meeting which dismissed the men had no agenda, and is being widely seen as a coup in favour of keeping in power those continuing to pursue the corrupt approach of the old regime.  In Europe it is universally being reported as being a total power bid by Gianni Infantino.

The ethics duo had been a thorn in the side of Infantino since his appointment 14 months ago. The two had demonstrated their independence throughout, not least when they carried out preliminary investigations against the new Fifa boss himself in 2016. Infantino you may recall had become the focus with private jet flights and what roughly translates from the German as “other escapades”.

The investigation of the ethics committee was due to continue after the congress, which will formally end today, leaving Infantino exposed once again be the target of the ethics committee. According to the European media, among other tricks Infantino has been involved in promoting Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar in the Africa Association Caf.   However the rules of the supposedly reformed Fifa prohibit the president from any interference in such elections. Infantino dismisses all allegations and refused to allow the ethics committee to discuss them.

Meanwhile the US Justice Dept has just accused another Fifa official, Richard Lai of Guam, of collecting a million dollars of bribes.  Lai has apparently now confessed. According to the legal document there is a money trail between Lais and Qatar’s corrupt ex-football chef Mohamed Bin Hammam.  And despite this Infantino is removing the key players investigating the affair.

In short, despite the fact that the independent investigators are said to have “hundreds” of ongoing investigations, Fifa has incapacitated its corruption investigations by removing not just the chairmen but the whole ethics committee save for two of Infantino’s own nominees.

Eckert and Borbély have now complained that they were given no notice that they are to be removed. According to the Guardian, which has covered part of the affair, “Both said that the suddenness of their removal and the lack of explanation led them to conclude that it was “political” and that Gianni Infantino no longer wants an independent body investigating corruption, even after the devastating scandals of recent years.”

Cornel and Borbély have further stated that years of collective experience in pursuing ethics issues are now going to be lost – although it seems American investigators are taking a close interest in the affair.

Certainly the US judiciary has stated that the Fifa could lose its “victim status” in the investigations conducted under the anti-Mafia Act and be treated the perpetrators of crime if they show no credible move to reform.  To add force to the message former Justice Minister Loretta Lynch delivered this message personally in Zurich.

In Germany it is reported that the newly founded Fifa Council with a board of directors with 36 members (set up to add to the democratic decision-making processes), is to be abandoned and a small decision-making club is to be established instead.

The amendments to the statutes convert the Fifa Council Committee (consisting of Infantino and the heads of the six continental units) into a decision-making body which exercises the absolute power of the old executive.

It is also reported that this small committee, hitherto referred to as an emergency committee, will in the future deal with “other matters, even if they are not particularly urgent”.   The new self-empowerment is enshrined in the note that “the Council is no longer required to ratify the decisions taken by the Council”.  In effect it is a coup.

The committee will be paid salaries of between $300,000 and $450,000 for attending four meetings a year – nice work if you can get it.  The European press are now calling this “silence money” and comes at a time when Fifa sponsors (although not Fifa members like the FA) are reducing their funding of Fifa.

Meanwhile it is reported that Uefa’s representatives in Moscow Aleksander Ceferin and Vitali Mutkohave were strongly involved arguing that the ethics committee and its work is too expensive for Fifa.

According to the governance report, the total expenditure for Eckert’s and Borbelys’ staff in 2016 amounted to around three million euros – out of a total income of over seven billion euros.

Just to make it clear: the FA and the UK media supports and part finances Fifa by paying for broadcasting rights etc.  The UK government part-finances the FA.

So when we speak of $300,000 and $450,000 per person for four meetings a year, if you are a tax payer like me, then you are contributing to it, and the media is doing virtually nothing to expose it because it too is paying for Fifa.

I just thought I’d like to make that clear.

 

13 comments to Who needs ethics? Fifa kicks out the reformers while the FA and UK media smile at the antics of funny foreigners.

  • Mandy Dodd

    All very depressing….Infantino is starting to resemble who he succeeded.
    Think he has just given quite a few extra places to African teams in future World Cups , a lot of votes for him in that.
    Just hope the U.S. Justice dept keep up the work…..and that they are Itruly independant on the U.S. Regime at the moment….if a president can get rid of an FBI director on a whim, I am sure he could do the same with the justice dept….just cannot see trumps lot having any interest in funding anything against FIFA

  • Brickfields Gunners

    When I read that smoking was bad, I quit smoking.
    When I read drinking was bad, I quit drinking.
    When I read that fatty foods were bad, I quit fatty foods.
    When I read that statins were bad , I quit statins .
    When I read that sex was bad, I really had to quit reading.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Disgusting. But then wat isn’t disgusting about FIFA?

  • Gunnerjoe

    The more things change the more things stay the same

  • Pat

    I find it impossible to work out what is really going on because I cannot trust anybody’s account – and that especially includes anyone from the US, the ‘global superpower’ that wants it to stay that way.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    only the have-nots want change

    the people in power want to keep it
    the people who have money want to keep it
    the people who have power also have money…that’s a lot to keep.

  • Josif

    The worst thing?

    The worst thing is, I’m only shocked because someone has managed to put words “ethics” and “FIFA” in the same sentence.

    People with integrity are less and less desirable in the modern world. Those who try to stick to moral principles like Arsene are either mocked as Don Quijotes of the modern times or forced to fight while having chains on their ankles until they are either too tired for the fight or…removed, one way or another.

  • OlegYch

    ‘Seven Days in May’ is a darn fine movie
    i wonder if it is purely a coincidence i just seen it for the first time yesterday

  • finsbury

    Well I don’t know what the problem is: these foreigners are funny!

    http://www.atimes.com/article/athlone-town-soccer-scandal-shows-no-game-small-rig/

    Articles like this do Untold no favours! I mean nothing like this could ever happen upon the blessed isle protected as we are by Britannia’s sacred and pure girdle.

    Just don’t mention the foreigners owning all the clubs innit. How they were inspired by Risdale and invited in by Scudamore. Mum’s the word.

    Nothing to see here. Move along now, move along.

  • Norman14

    bring bring, bring bring…..

    “Wha Hellllooo this is The Donald”

    “Hello Mr President, Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely here. How would you like to take down the most corrupt organisation in the world?”

    “Hell Yeaaaah – you got evidence?”

    “Hell Yeah!”

  • Gord

    The infant one has arranged things such that brown paper bags (full of some kind of paper that has ink on it) will no longer be “disposed” of at FIFA meetings.

    No, at great expense, FIFA has developed olive green bags to be used for this purpose.

  • Norman14

    The only way to cover up corruption is to add more corruption.

    That, sadly is how “our” world operates.

    You either with us or agin us – as someone once famously said!

  • Norman14

    …and it gets worse. How can FIFA condone such an evil nation, with such justification as this?

    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/fifa-boss-rigs-vote-israel-last-minute

    I bet it’s not in the UK mainstream media either!

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