FIFA’s incompetency exposed by ethics sackings
The moment Fatma Samoura denied plans to sack Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely from their FIFA ethics roles they were dead in the water.
All in all, Eckert and Borbely did a good job. They had the guts to run Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini out of town, and they followed through on all the serious stuff dumped in their lap by the US Department of Justice.
But the manner of their sacking was ungrateful and, frankly, incompetent.
Judge Eckert and investigator Borbely could have jumped ship last year, like audit chair Domenico Scala, in protest at Infantino having yanked the independence rug from beneath them. However, they decided to stay on and their pathetic reward was a flight to Bahrain for dismissal by congress at Infantino’s behest. One trusts they did not have to pay for their flights home.
In a hastily summoned media briefing they expressed their anger while noting that they had sanctioned 74 individuals after nearly 200 investigations, with more under way. How a handover to new investigator Maria Claudia Rojas and judge Vassilios Skouris will work was not explained.
Apart from the lack of time for eligibility checks, an obvious issue concerns the practicalities. Infantino said he wanted greater diversity. But whether a Spanish-speaking Colombian investigator can work effectively with a Greek judge who lives half a world away is open to question.
Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Eckert and Borbely did not get everything right:
l Eckert’s summary of Michael Garcia’s original 2018/2022 World Cup bid report prompted more questions than answers.
l Eckert carelessly betrayed the evidential confidences of Phaedra Almajid and Bonita Mersiades without apparent concern or apology.
l Borbely and Eckert’s processing of written judgments was so slow as to fringe the bounds of justice (as in the cases of Harold Mayne-Nicholls and Chung Mong-joon).
l Eckert nonsensically permitted banned Michel Platini to deliver a ‘farewell address’ to UEFA Congress last June.
l Eckert and Borbely’s gagging threats to Mayne-Nicholls were out of order.
l Eckert and Borbely’s failure to run to earth Marco Polo del Nero – who was indicted by the US DoJ in December 2015 but still in place as CBF president – remains baffling.
The manner of their dismissal and that of short-lived governance chair Maduro did indeed send out an awful and clear message about the unreformed culture within FIFA, whatever the changes in personnel. But that was not the worst of it.
FIFA’s most powerful judicial committees desperately need independent individuals who cannot be intimidated.
Who, of high standing in public life, would want to risk their reputation in the Zurich maelstrom?
Dismissed...HansJoachim Eckert (left) and Cornel Borbely