Is the poppy scandal at FIFA hiding a deeper problem

Date: 1st November 2016

Today the scandal of FIFA threating the FA and SFA over the wearing of the poppy on their shirts emerged to the public glare. Here we print in full a report from our friends at Inside World Football. Let us not forget that FIFA is a tarnished brand with tarnished reputation that needs to be brought back down to earth! This is our game and fans like us across the world need to reclaim it!

Ethics fee revelations masks a deeper FIFA corruption that is focusing investigators
1st November 2016 FIFA-headquarters

By Andrew Warshaw

November 1 – Gianni Infantino’s insistence that the corruption crisis at FIFA is over looks set to blow up in his face when FIFA’s ethics committee launches a raft a new prosecutions over the next few months that will further call into question the world governing body’s image and reputation.

Insideworldfootball has learned that the infamous rule change orchestrated by Infantino at FIFA’s annual congress in Mexico in May, allowing FIFA’s ruling Council to hire and fire members of judicial bodies and effectively strip away their independence will have little effect in scaring off ethics officials who plan to step up rather than reduce the number of investigations, some of them involving key members of FIFA’s 211 federations.

Ethics committee officials have declined to comment on a Bloomberg report that Cornel Borbely, who has headed the committee’s investigatory chamber since 2014, charged FIFA CHF 2.2 million for fees for 2014 and 2015. It is anticipated that the exact figure will be made public next year as part of FIFA’s 2016 financial report.

The amount Borbely allegedly charged for his services is similar to the sum agreed as part of the notorious “gentleman’s agreement” between Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini which led to football’s two most powerful officials being banned – on Borbely’s recommendation.

But while it might appear excessive for an independent prosecutor to earn so much money for trying to clean up FIFA, Borbely’s invoices are controlled by FIFA’s Audit and Compliance committee and the figure allegedly billed is no less than lawyers defending some of the culprits might also earn.

It could also be interpreted as reflecting the workload carried out by Borbely and his staff over the past couple of years – arguably the most intensive period since the ethics committee was set up. No fewer than 16 reports were handed over to the adjudicatory chamber in 2015 alone.

Within months of taking office in February, Infantino himself was investigated by the ethics committee, partly over his expenses. The fact that he was cleared of any wrongdoing was interpreted in many quarters as a sign of weakness by the ethics committee because of the afore-mentioned rule change though Borbely was not personally involved in the case as he had recused himself because he is the same nationality as Infantino.

Borbely has never publicly commented on the case but it is understood he was as shocked as anyone by the Mexico anti-independence statute change and is determined not to allow it to undermine his position or have any effect on the future activities of his department. He is also believed to have been completely taken aback at reports that he told Infantino any investigation into the FIFA president’s expense account would go “straight in the bin” – which is what Infantino is claimed to have told Council members in Mexico.

News that there is more to come in terms of the number of serious cases in Borbely’s in-tray and potential recommendations for sanctions will make grim reading for Infantino, who is himself being closely watched by ethics officials in terms of possible further transgressions.

It also suggests that Borbely’s office is not prepared to be unduly influenced by pressure from the new regime running FIFA. “The committee is in the midst of writing global sports history,” said one insider with knowledge of its work.

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