Fifa accused of failing to look into corruption charges

 

Fifa has been accused of failing to sufficiently investigate allegations of wrongdoing made against its members.

The world governing body yesterday published the findings of a report compiled by Mark Pieth, an anti-corruption expert, that also called for an independent presence on the troubled Executive Committee, a limit to the length of term the president can serve and for "integrity checks" on key officials and employees.

Sepp Blatter, Fifa's president, backed part of the report but ducked questions over past failings and failed to give his unreserved support to Pieth's proposals. It was an another day of stonewalling at Fifa's Zurich HQ.

Blatter, though, hailed a "historic day for Fifa's reform process" that saw him and the Ex-co agree to recommend a change to how it investigates corruption. A "two-chamber Ethics Committee" will be established, one to investigate and one to prosecute, as recommended by Pieth. "Unanimously [the Ex-co] agreed to this new approach in our, let's say, efforts for more transparency and integrity," said Blatter.

The report suggests it be headed by an independent chair chosen from a list proposed by Pieth's panel, and that they then have a seat on the all-important Ex-co. Blatter made no mention of any Ex-co place, although Fifa will allow Pieth to put forward candidates to be voted on in May's annual congress of all 208 member nations.

At yesterday's Ex-co meeting it was decided not to re-open an investigation into possible vote-rigging over the destination of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals. Pieth's report said: "Allegations were insufficiently investigated and where sanctions were imposed, they are at times insufficient and clearly unconvincing."

Pieth's committee looked at Fifa's investigation of Lord Triesman's allegations of impropriety by a number of Fifa members during the 2018 World Cup bid campaign. Fifa said last year that there was no case to answer.

Pieth recommends presidential terms be limited to two of four years each – Blatter is in his fourth. Fifa say they will make a decision on that in 2013.

An audit and compliance committee should be set up to decide on pay and benefits for the president, members and senior executives. According to Fifa's 2011 accounts, salaries have grown from $52m (£32.5m) in 2008 to $89m (£55.6m). In the same period bonuses for Ex-co members and senior management have risen from $19m (£11.9m) to $30m (£18.75m).

Pieth also proposed a nominations committee, again chaired by an independent figure, to vet senior Fifa figures. The report says the "integrity checks" should be "retroactive for all current position holders". Fifa said that the new Ethics Committee would carry this out.

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