Fifa ethics adviser criticises Europeans

Fifa’s adviser on ethics and transparency accused European football governing body Uefa of trying to water down his reform agenda, and said British and German leaders of the sport were compromising their once high-minded stance on corruption.

Mark Pieth, appointed by Fifa president Sepp Blatter to help clean up the world governing body’s sullied reputation in the wake of bribery and corruption allegations, said Uefa members were backtracking on recommendations such as limits to terms of office and integrity checks on nominations for senior Fifa posts.

Fifa’s ethics advisory panel, the Independent Governance Committee, issued a progress report on Friday in which it reiterated the need for these and other recommendations to be adopted.

In a statement accompanying the report, the committee said: “In light of these recommendations, made by the IGC from the outset, the IGC is disappointed at the tendency of some confederations and member associations (eg Uefa and its members) to attempt to dilute the thrust of the reform.”

Uefa last month discussed the recommendations but concluded there should be no term limits for Fifa executive committee members and that integrity checks should be carried out by Fifa confederations rather than an independent body.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Pieth, the committee chairman, said he was “not happy with Uefa”, pointing the finger at Britain and Germany – both of which had previously been in the forefront of the international clamour for Fifa reform.

“The British were furious when they lost the World Cup [2018 bid], the Germans were furious when they saw all these forms of patronage, and so on. There was a very strong thrust to reform,” said Mr Pieth.

“When I look at the recommendations, they are not totally absurd, they are typical within such a process. Then, suddenly, the Europeans, including the British and Germans, say this all goes a bit far.”

Uefa said it had nothing to add beyond last month’s response to the IGC recommendations.

Mr Pieth also said he was unhappy with the way Fifa selected people on to its reformed ethics bodies. Michael Garcia, head of Fifa’s investigatory body into ethical behaviour, was not Mr Pieth’s preferred candidate, though Mr Pieth said he believed Mr Garcia would do a good job.

He also said recommendations for the investigatory body of women, including Sue Akers, London’s Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner, were rejected because of their gender.

“I didn’t like their excuses why they didn’t want women. Sue Akers was a very good choice. To say that you don’t want women, that’s awkward,” Mr Pieth said.

The IGC had created a mechanism for Fifa to investigate past allegations, Mr Pieth added, and he said he expected Mr Garcia to do so.

However, he criticised Fifa for not allowing a report by Mr Garcia into millions of dollars paid in kickbacks to former senior Fifa members to be shown to Hans-Joachim Eckert, the Fifa adjudicator on cases of unethical behaviour.

Mr Pieth said he remained optimistic about the Fifa reform agenda, but admitted there were “formidable challenges” ahead.

“It is quite unclear how it plays out. A lot can happen, we are in the midst of this internal debate and it may be comparable to a football match,” Mr Pieth said.

Fifa said it noted the IGC report but had no comment.

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