FIFA has established a new set of procedures for investigations of ethical violations in the organization. Such investigations will be headed by the newly appointed Michael Garcia (above, with Hans Joachim Ekert), who recently explained his wide remit:
“There are no limitations at all on what we will be looking at, it will be determined solely by what we perceive as evidence or suggestions or reasons to look further and that will be our guiding principle,” Michael J. Garcia, head investigator for FIFA’s ethics committee, said today at a press conference in Zurich. An investigation can be started into anything or anyone, “whether that is a particular World Cup or a particular person,” he added.It is thus of note that Garcia decided that the first investigation to open would be of Mohammed bin Hammam, who is embroiled in a long-running dispute with FIFA and Sepp Blatter. Recently, FIFA was rebuked in an arbitration proceeding by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a complaint filed by bin Hammam.
Blatter’s ruling board agreed to create a two-chamber ethics court to prosecute cases more effectively after a panel of anti-corruption experts advising FIFA said previous cases were “insufficiently investigated.”
Former U.S. attorney Garcia was named by FIFA on July 17 as lead investigator of the restructured committee to investigate allegations of corruption in the sport, while German judge Hans- Joachim Eckert was chosen to lead the adjudicatory branch.
Garcia's decision to place the investigation of bin Hammam at the front of the queue, raises some eyebrows. Writing at ESPNStar, Jesse Fink opines:
Now you'd be safe in deducing Sepp Blatter and his cronies at FIFA in Zurich have a lot of reasons to be worried about Mohamed Bin Hammam.It is perfectly reasonable for people to ask how FIFA's new investigative regime sets its priorities and decides how to open an particular investigation. Other various allegations and apparent irregularities are further down Garcia's queue, including those having to do with the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Sepp Blatter's insinuations about Germany 2006, the revelations from the ISL scandal, the allegations leveled by Fink about Blatter above and so on.
Why else immediately re-suspend the stood-aside president of the Asian Football Confederation and re-open an ethics committee investigation, even when the Court of Arbitration of Sport found the initial "eth-co" probe lacked procedural fairness and the sort of standard of evidence required to nail him?
Clearly the man presents a clear and present danger to President Sepp Blatter.
And so long as he stays in power the president's wishes are obvious: do what it takes to get rid of him once and for all and keep me well out of it.
The new, double-barrelled ethics committee might be reloaded, renamed and under new leadership, but to all intents and purposes it's still contains individuals that didn't do their job properly in the first place.
If the eth-co weren't so politically geared, it would be opening an investigation into how Blatter, Bin Hammam's rival in the same 2011 presidential election, allegedly gave away in "gifts" an identical amount of money as the Qatari - $1 million in US currency - during the campaign.
There is so much that Garcia might begin investigating that an ability to clearly explain how he sets priorities is going to be essential to FIFA's ability to demonstrate transparency and progress toward better governance.
Garcia should therefore be questioned about his priorities and decision making processes, with an expectation that he can back them up publicly. FIFA is learning that, as with pregnancy, there is no such thing as a little bit of good governance.