IOC repeating FIFA’s mistakes
Any time soon, sentencing of more than 30 of the FIFA gate flock will begin in New York.
A majority have pleaded guilty in the hope of mitigating their likely sentences by telling all they know. A handful are pleading not guilty, and their trials may be used by those who admitted bribery and corruption to delay sentencing.
Either way, whatever emerges will cast a new pall over the world federation, even though president Gianni Infantino will shrug it off as a legacy of a corrupt old order. But FIFA in particular, and international sport in general, cannot throw off the shackles of scandal so simply.
Consider the International Olympic Committee. When Sepp Blatter’s house of cards was blown down in May 2015, FIFA Congress was urged by IOC president Thomas Bach to waste no time bringing in a swath of governance reforms.
Bach’s address, describing how the IOC had cleaned up its act after the Salt Lake City voterigging scandal, was unfortunately sanctimonious in tone. This is because it now appears the Olympic movement had not cleaned up its own act at all.
In the wake of last year’s Games there have been allegations about a Russian doping cover-up and voterigging by Rio bid bosses to win the election back in October 2009.
Cynics will suggest this proves that the vast sums of money washing around high-profile international sport have tainted football, athletics and the rest beyond redemption.
FIFA has no defence even now. The ethics committee appears to have ceased active duty ever since Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely were sacked as judge and inquisitor by congress in May.
Yet, perversely, FIFA has democratised its host-award system more effectively, in practical terms, than the IOC. The Olympics of 2024 and 2028 have been awarded to Paris and Los Angeles respectively after Bach and his ruling cabal sidestepped the 100- plus members of the IOC entirely. FIFA, by contrast, will ask its 200plus members to vote on its next award in congress after stripping the council of that right following the 2018-2022 scandal.
However, both organisations cannot continue to sidestep some long-standing disciplinary issues.
FIFA needs to take action over Brazilian CBF president Marco Polo del Nero, indicted by the US DoJ but still allowed to run the football show in Rio. Similarly the IOC must deal with bribery allegations against Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of Kuwait, who was also forced to give up his FIFA Council post this year.
Ethics in sport should be about actions, not words. FIFA and the IOC both have a long way to go.
IOC president... Thomas Bach