Niers­bach ban is test for In­fantino

World Soccer - - The World -

Wolf­gang Niers­bach’s on­go­ing mem­ber­ship of the gov­ern­ing coun­cils of FIFA and UEFA of­fers an early test of whether Gianni In­fantino was se­ri­ous in his protes­ta­tions over the con­tro­ver­sial rule change rushed through the Mex­ico City congress in May.

On that oc­ca­sion, congress voted for a clause which ripped the tech­ni­cal rug of in­de­pen­dence from be­neath the ju­di­cial com­mit­tees – in­clud­ing the ethics cham­ber – as a means of pro­vok­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Domenico Scala as au­dit and com­pli­ance chair­man.

Scala and In­fantino fell out over a num­ber of is­sues, no­tably what In­fantino termed an “in­sult­ing” pay of­fer and the method­ol­ogy used to ap­point Fatma Samoura as sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

In­fantino jus­ti­fied the reg­u­la­tory change as per­mit­ting the in­stant re­place­ment of any ju­di­cial com­mit­tee mem­bers who had fallen foul of the law. Cer­tainly there was a need for such a power but it should have been vested within the ethics com­mit­tee and not di­rectly in the pa­tron­age of the pres­i­dent him­self. This was why the ap­point­ment of To­masz Ve­sel as Scala’s suc­ces­sor was not greeted with whole­hearted ap­plause.

Niers­bach, for­mer pres­i­dent of the Ger­man DFB, was barred from foot­ball for a year by the ethics com­mit­tee for try­ing to hush up the con­tro­versy over un­ex­plained monies fly­ing in and out of the 2006 World Cup bid and then or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tees.

Yet, in con­tin­u­ing to protest his in­no­cence, he may carry on as if noth­ing had hap­pened while fol­low­ing a long, drawn-out ap­peals path. By all good sense, he should be stood down from fea­tur­ing in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process while his ap­peals are con­sid­ered, for the sake of trans­parency and cred­i­bil­ity.

In­fantino has the power to make it hap­pen. He made sure of that him­self in Mex­ico City.

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