Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FIFA Lose 95-1

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has voted 95 to 1 (with 2 abstentions) to demand a “detailed and exhaustive” investigation into the 2011 FIFA presidential election that saw Sepp Blatter elected unopposed to a fourth term as president.

The only vote against the motion came from a Swiss delegate, and the two abstentions were Swiss and Danish. (See *** below for a brief tutorial on the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly -- football governance issues definitely makes one learn a bit about the vast arrary of European governance bodies;-)

Here is the PACE press release in full:
PACE demands ‘detailed and exhaustive’ investigation into FIFA’s recent Presidential election

Strasbourg, 25.04.2012 – Football’s governing body FIFA should open a “detailed and exhaustive” internal investigation into whether, and to what extent, the elected candidate in its recent election for President exploited his institutional position to obtain “unfair advantages for himself or for potential voters”, according to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

In a resolution based on the report “Good governance and ethics in sport” by François Rochebloine (France, EPP/CD), the Assembly also called on FIFA to publish in full any judicial and other documents relating to the case of Swiss sports promoter ISL/ISMM, whose collapse in 2001 gave rise to allegations of kickbacks to FIFA officials in return for television rights. In particular, it seeks publication of the May 2010 decision which suspended criminal proceedings against “two natural persons and FIFA” for misappropriation of funds – after certain sums were repaid.

The Assembly said FIFA should “cast full light on the facts underlying the various scandals which, in recent years, have tarnished its image and that of international football”. The investigative powers of its Ethics Committee, in particular, should be significantly increased so that it could undertake “on its own initiative and at any point, internal investigations, including with regard to former officials”.

In the same report, the Assembly also proposed a comprehensive set of guidelines on good governance and ethics in sport for international and national sports bodies, as well as governments, to apply. These aim to promote financial fair play and discourage gross financial inequalities between clubs, protect young sportsmen and women, and improve transparency and accountability in sport’s managing bodies.
 ***A note on institutions

From Wikipedia, the Council of Europe:
The Council of Europe (French: Conseil de l'Europe) is an international organization promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. It was founded in 1949, has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens, and is an entirely separate body from the European Union (EU), which has only 27 member states. Unlike the EU, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws.
Perhaps the most well known body of the COE is the European Court of Human Rights (which is currently getting a good working over in the court of UK public opinion).

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe:
Unlike the European Parliament (an institution of the European Union), which was created after the model of the PACE and also meets in Strasbourg for its plenary sessions (prior to 1999, in the PACE hemicycle), its powers extend only to the ability to investigate, recommend and advise. Even so, its recommendations on issues such as human rights have significant weight in the European political context. The European Parliament and other European Union institutions often refer to the work of PACE, especially in the field of human rights, legal co-operation and cultural co-operation.

Important statutory functions of the PACE are the election of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the judges of the European Court of Human Rights and the members of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

In general it meets 4 times per year at Strasbourg at the Palace of Europe for a week. The 10 permanent commissions of the Assembly meet all year long to prepare reports and projects for resolutions in their respective fields of expertise.

The Assembly sets its own agenda. It discusses European and international events and examines current subjects which interest the populations of the countries of Europe. The main themes covered are human rights, democracy, protection of minorities and the rule of law.
The PACE vote on FIFA does not carry the force of law, but it does carry some considerable force in the international arena. We should expect a reply from FIFA or its Independent Governance Committee.


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