FIFA still re­sis­tant to change, says for­mer of­fi­cial

Stabroek News - - SPORT -

LON­DON, (Reuters) - FIFA is strug­gling to im­ple­ment re­forms and change its op­er­at­ing cul­ture be­cause its lead­ers are more wor­ried about their own po­lit­i­cal fu­tures, a for­mer top of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day.

The global soc­cer body has been try­ing to over­haul its op­er­a­tions in the wake of the worst cri­sis in its his­tory, sparked in 2015 by the in­dict­ment in the United States of sev­eral dozen soc­cer of­fi­cials on cor­rup­tion­re­lated charges.

Miguel Maduro, a for­mer head of FIFA’s in­de­pen­dent gov­er­nance and re­view com­mit­tee, also told a Bri­tish par­lia­men­tary hear­ing that FIFA’s lead­er­ship tried to per­suade him not to block Rus­sian Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Vi­taly Mutko from be­ing re­elected to its top com­mit­tee.

“There is a cul­ture in the in­sti­tu­tion ... that is ex­tremely re­sis­tant to ac­count­abil­ity, to in­de­pen­dent scru­tiny, to trans­parency, to pre­ven­tion of con­flicts of in­ter­est,” Maduro told the Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport Se­lect Com­mit­tee.

He said FIFA pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino “re­alised that if he wanted to sur­vive po­lit­i­cally, he had to choose to pro­tect the in­de­pen­dence of bod­ies, and there­fore to keep us in place, or an­swer to his con­stituency.”

Nei­ther FIFA nor In­fantino could im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment.

Maduro, a Por­tuguese lawyer and politi­cian, was re­moved form his post in May, two months af­ter rul­ing that Mutko could not stand for re­elec­tion for his place on the FIFA Coun­cil.

His re­spon­si­bil­i­ties had in­cluded con­duct­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity checks on can­di­dates for places on FIFA com­mit­tees.

At the same time, FIFA also de­cided not to re­new the man­dates of Cor­nel Bor­bely and Hans-Joachim Eck­ert, the two heads of the in­de­pen­dent ethics com­mit­tee re­spon­si­ble for ban­ning a num­ber of soc­cer of­fi­cials over the pre­vi­ous three years.

“If they wanted in FIFA to re­ally have in­de­pen­dent scru­tiny, they ought to have pro­tected us,” said Maduro. “I think that ul­ti­mately, he (In­fantino) chose to po­lit­i­cally sur­vive.”

“I was clearly told that declar­ing Mr Mutko in­el­i­gi­ble would prob­a­bly cost the pres­i­dency be­cause the World Cup would be a disas­ter and as a con­se­quence the pres­i­dency would be put un­der ques­tion,” Maduro added.

Mutko was barred by the gov­er­nance com­mit­tee be­cause his po­si­tion in Rus­sia con­tra­dicted its statutes con­cern­ing po­lit­i­cal neu­tral­ity.

In­fantino was elected in Fe­bru­ary 2016 to re­build FIFA af­ter it be­came em­broiled in the cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

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