Soccer’s governing body FIFA has an exemplary ethics set-up unmatched by any other sports organisation, its president Sepp Blatter said yesterday.

“Since the reforms, we have had an exemplary organisation in ethics... we have two chambers... with independent chairmen,” Blatter told the World Summit for Ethics in Sports.

“We are the only sports organisation which has this independent body for ethics, nobody else, not even the IOC (International Olympic Committee).

“What is important is that they are totally independent, they have been elected by the congress.”

Blatter said that FIFA’s ethics committee was entirely independent and, since 2011, had consisted of two parts - the investigatory chamber, responsible for investigating breaches of ethics, and the adjudicatory chamber, which determines sanctions.

FIFA has been hit by a series of corruption scandals in the last few years resulting in the suspension of several members of its executive committee while some had to resign.

The ethics committee is currently investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.

“In football, we have challenges, because we have 209 national associations, we have 300mn active participants in our sport around the world... players, coaches, referees and with their families we have 1.2bn people, directly or indirectly involved in our sport,” Blatter added.

“It is easy to control the football, our game, when it is played on a pitch, there are boundaries, secondly there is a time limit and there is a referee so it is easy to work with our 300mn participants on the field of the play.

“Outside the field of play, we have no boundaries, no referees and no timing.” 

Meanwhile, FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, responsible for deciding whether there was corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, has said only four people have seen the report following an investigation into the decisions.

The German judge said he has been handed a 430-page report, plus 200,000 pages of evidence, following a year-long probe by Michael Garcia, FIFA’s ethics investigator and a former US attorney.

Eckert, who heads the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee, told the World Summit for Ethics that he hoped to finish his work by the end of October or early November, adding that he understood the case was “urgent”.

However, he later clarified on the sidelines of the event that the report would then be handed back to Garcia for further work.

“We are now doing a statement on the report and then Mr Garcia will be working further,” he told reporters. “At the moment, we have the report from Mr Garcia but it is not the legally qualified final report.

“There will be some decisions, maybe in spring, and then we will go on.”

He also made it clear that he did not have the power to order a re-vote or strip either country of its hosting rights.

 “This report has definitely been seen by only four people... nobody else has seen this report, neither FIFA nor any other organisations have got this report and this is how it was meant to be,” Eckert told the summit.

“You can rest assured that we professionals know how to safeguard the report, and not give anyone access to it.

“I have heard and read reports where it is alleged people have applied pressure on me to disclose detail about this report, but it’s absolutely wrong to say that former executive members of FIFA have called me,” added Eckert.

Eckert implied that details of the report would be made public once the decision had been made.

“You will know, but you will also have to respect that the persons who are potentially affected deserve to be protected in their privacy, so we have to presume people are not guilty until the end of the proceedings,” he said.

But Garcia later said too little information was being given on cases such as the probe into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

 “(The FIFA ethics code) is a robust code implemented in a fair and thorough way, but the process must lead to something else. The goal has to be instilling confidence in the process,” Garcia, in a rare public appearance, told the summit.

“Beyond any particular case, the public have to have confidence that the process is working in a fair way.”


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