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Fifa cor­rup­tion fight af­fected by purge of ethics team

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MANAMA

FIFA’S de­ci­sion to re­move their ethics team was a “set­back in the fight against cor­rup­tion“, one of those dis­missed, in­ves­ti­ga­tor Cor­nel Bor­bely, told a press con­fer­ence in Bahrain yes­ter­day.

World foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body has rec­om­mended that Bor­bely, along with the ethics judge who helped bring down Sepp Blat­ter, Hans-Joachim Eck­ert, not be re-elected at the Fifa Con­gress which takes place to­day in the Gulf.

Bor­bely also said there were “sev­eral hun­dred cases” of cor­rup­tion pend­ing.

“The re­moval means noth­ing else but the end of the re­form process,” said Bor­bely.

“The ethics com­mis­sion is the key in­sti­tu­tion of the Fifa re­forms.

“We could bring back some trust in Fifa, the ethics com­mit­tee... was the role model for the whole sports world.

“As it seems now, the work of the ethics com­mit­tee was in­con­ve­nient for func­tionar­ies, for Fifa of­fi­cials.

“The re­moval of the ethics com­mit­tee is not in Fifa’s best in­ter­ests... and it’s a set­back for the fight against cor­rup­tion,” said Bor­bely.

The dra­matic rec­om­men­da­tion was taken by the allpow­er­ful Fifa Coun­cil on Tues­day.

The de­ci­sion not to re-elect Eck­ert and Bor­bely comes as they have both served their fouryear terms.

The Coun­cil rec­om­mended re­plac­ing Eck­ert with Vas­sil­ios Sk­ouris of Greece, a former pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice.

Sim­i­larly, ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tor Bor­bely is to be re­placed by Colom­bia’s Maria Clau­dia Ro­jas.

Sk­ouris served as pres­i­dent on the ECJ from 2003 un­til 2015.

The de­ci­sion is set to be rat­i­fied by Fifa at their an­nual Con­gress, which con­venes in Bahrain to­day.

The de­ci­sion is con­tro­ver­sial as crit­ics have ac­cused Fifa pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino of hav­ing a per­sonal mo­tive to re­place Eck­ert and Bor­bely, as an ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched against him last year.

Eck­ert was the judge who opened pro­ceed­ings against Blat­ter and Michel Pla­tini in Novem­ber 2015.

“It’s not a great day for Fifa,” Eck­ert told the same hastily-ar­ranged press con­fer­ence, held in a down­town ho­tel in Manama.

“The loser is foot­ball, be­cause try­ing to get a good, hon­est Fifa now it’s very dif­fi­cult,” he said. “The loser is foot­ball, not me.” The in­ves­ti­ga­tors said they have still not been of­fi­cially told about their re­moval and only found out via their “mo­bile phones” when they landed in Bahrain on Tues­day evening.

One of­fi­cial joked that not be­ing in­formed was “classy.”

“I would like to have an ex­pla­na­tion,” said Eck­ert.

Fol­low­ing Tues­day’s de­ci­sion, Fifa mem­bers were tight-lipped but one Coun­cil of­fi­cial said: “Con­gress mem­bers felt that Fifa and the Ethics Com­mis­sion needed fresh­en­ing up.”

How­ever, Fifa’s de­ci­sion threat­ens to over­shadow their Con­gress and crit­ics will ar­gue that it calls into ques­tion the re­form agenda set by the pres­i­dent, who was elected last year af­ter foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body was en­gulfed by cor­rup­tion scan­dals. AFP

The re­moval means noth­ing else but the end of the re­form process.

COR­NEL BOR­BELY

In­ves­ti­ga­tor

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