Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jens Sejer Andersen: FIFA’s New Ethics Committee Fails First Test

Over at Play the Game, Jens Sejer Andersen takes a clear-eyed look at the recent report of the FIFA Ethics Committee on the so-called ISL case and finds it to be a failure.  Andersen summarizes (but do read the post in full):
In its totality the report of judge Eckert is a disappointing piece of work, and as long as the public is prevented from studying the investigations of Michael J. Garcia, Eckert has to carry the full responsibility for the flaws that can be summarized as follows:
  1. Out of the 142 million CHF handed out as bribes by ISL, more than 100 million are still unaccounted for. Eckert does not mention this fact at all. Did FIFA’s Ethics Committee forget to ask those people in FIFA and around FIFA who are likely to know more about this huge sum of unidentified bribes. If the committee did ask, but without success, shouldn’t the public know about this culture of denial?
  2. As earlier stated, Blatter and other FIFA officials are cleared of several charges only on the ground that FIFA regulations were unsatisfying or non-existent at the time of events. Thereby the new, independent Ethics Committee fails to meet the expectations that the outside world has rightly had of decisions based on independent consideration of ethical questions and not only on well-known legal formalities.
  3. The Ethics Committee has an unclear stand on the key question if it was ethically ok for Sepp Blatter as FIFA Secretary General to watch passively in the 1990ies while the biggest corruption scandal in sport unfolded among his closest allies.
  4. Eckert does not lay out the premises behind his few assessments of ethical character – for instance the description of Blatter as “clumsy”.
  5. The Ethics Committee declares this case for closed without dealing an inch with the fact that Sepp Blatter over ten years, from 2001 to 2011, used all his powers to keep the ISL-affair secret with lies, threats and manipulation. This happened also after the introduction of an Ethics Code in 2004. Why has the Ethics Committee not pronounced itself on this behavior?
  6. Especially big sums of FIFA money were used by Blatter on lawyers’ fees to make the courts ensure that nothing came out about the persons involved in the post-bankruptcy negotiations or about the settlement that ended the ISL case in the Swiss legal system. Was this an ethical use of FIFA’s resources, or an unethical attempt to cover it all up?
  7. Sepp Blatter avoided over two years, from 2010 to 2012 – to publish the ISL settlement, although he was free to do so and although he said from October 2011 that he would like to. He claimed in contrast to the truth that the other parties in the case prevented him from doing so. Proper ethics, Mr. Eckert?
  8. Although judge Eckert recognizes that key persons in FIFA have rejected to cooperate in the investigations, that FIFA investigators do not dispose of the same powerful tools as the real police and that various important case facts remain in the dark, he chooses on this fragile foundation to wipe all doubts aside, declare case closed and exonerate all FIFA officials in the future. Effective, perhaps. But ethically sustainable?
So much for the failed responsibilities of the Ethics Committee. The real responsibility rests of course with the political level of FIFA, with Blatter, with the ExCo and with the general assembly. If FIFA leadership believes that the Ethics Committee has done an excellent job, why not support this evaluation by publishing all papers produced by investigator Garcia?
 Andersen points to the IOC and US authorities as possible venues for further investigations of FIFA. For its part, FIFA clearly hopes that the sham report will serve to sweep the ISL case under the rug. Perhaps so, but I am skeptical.

The work of FIFA reform has a long way to go.


Post a Comment