Most news coverage focuses on the inclusion in the addendum of testimony to the COE from Thomas Hildbrand, Special Public Prosecutor for the Canton of Zug (Switzerland), who discussed some previously unreleased details related to the ISL case. That is no doubt interesting, but here I focus on the rejoinder offered by the COE to FIFA's critique of its report.
The response is comprehensive and pulls no punches-- remarkably so coming from a government organization, particularly one as staid as the Council of Europe.
Here is how the response ends:
In the addendum the response to FIFA begins at section 11. It includes a response to a claim by FIFA that allegations made against its president Sepp Blatter in the dispute with Mohamed bin Hammam had been dismissed by the FIFA Ethics Committee. The response includes a call for an investigation of Blatter.
The money managed by FIFA is money that belongs to football and not to its officials, but in addition no sports organisation can become a place where the law does not apply and where corruption and fraud are in practice tolerated and go unpunished. What is at issue here is compliance with the rule of law.
- Mr Blatter is the President of FIFA, but he is not FIFA and he should not confuse what is in his own interest with what is in the interest of the organisation he is supposed to serve.
- Asking FIFA to improve its governance, the transparency of its accounts and to take steps to shed light on the scandals which tarnish its image is hardly interference; it is just common sense.
- Lastly, the independence of sport – to which we remain committed – should not become a defence for those who abuse their authority. It is wrong to have accusations without proof, but it is our duty to ask for the truth to be sought and established.
The COE responds as follows:
A small note -- the COE picks up on the same exchange rate red herring that I discussed here, but actually, the exchange rate effect is even less than that suggested by the COE.