FIFA ousts heads of ethics committee and governance
The FIFA Council has voted to replace the heads of both chambers of its Ethics committee, Eckert and Borbély. The two hit back in a statement claiming that this signals the end of FIFA’s reforms. FIFA has also chosen to part with Miguel Maduro, Head of FIFA’s governance and review committee.
The FIFA Council has decided not to nominate Hans Joakim Eckert, head of the adjudicatory arm of the FIFA Ethics Committee, nor Cornel Borbély, head of the investigative chamber, for another four-year term.
The outgoing officials call the decision ‘politically motivated’ and an action that will “further hurt the already tarnished image of FIFA”.
“The impending non-election will set the work of the Ethics Committee far back and is de facto the end of FIFA’s reform efforts,” the two ethics chairmen say in a statement. “The non-election will lead to long delays in current investigations and proceedings, and complicate the prosecution of violations of the Code of Ethics,” the statement reads and calls the decision personally and politically motivated.
“It appears that the heads of FIFA have attached greater weight to their own and political interests, than to the long-term interests of FIFA. They have accepted jeopardizing FIFA’s integrity, and, hence, the future of the game.”
FIFA has not commented on the reasons behind the replacements, only confirmed them.
Miguel Maduro, head of FIFA’s governance and review committee, is also set to leave his position when if the FIFA Congress approves the council proposal. According to sources quoted by the Financial Times, Madura’s non-election is partly due to his role in deeming Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko ineligible for a seat on the FIFA council.
Maduro has not commented on not being re-nominated.
At a press conference called by Eckert and Borbély in Bahrain earlier today, they both reiterated their disappointment.
"We investigated several hundred cases and several hundred are still pending and ongoing at the moment," said Borbély according to Reuters.
Eckert and Borbély have been heading FIFA’s ethics committee since 2012 and have had an instrumental role in FIFA’s reform programme, including the banning of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini. The committee has also investigated the present FIFA president Gianni Infantino and his expense accounts and use of private flights.
Both chairmen have been criticised for not being tough enough in their decisions on ethical breaches and Eckert, especially, for not publishing the Garcia report about the ISL case in its entirety.
Calls for an explanation
FIFA reform activist group New FIFA Now has issued a call for a ‘satisfactory explanation for the ousting’.
“The concern is that it is a purge for reasons of self-interest from the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino,” says Jaimie Fuller in a New FIFA Now statement and deplores the loss of expertise across the five FIFA committees whose chairs have been replaced.
“The decisions of the Council and so many actions of Mr Infantino’s administration are no more trustworthy than his predecessors,” Fuller says.
Colombian lawyer Maria Claudia Rojas and judge Vassilios Skouris from Greece will take over from Borbély and Eckert. The FIFA Council is currently meeting in Bahrain before the FIFA Congress kicks off later this week.
Full statement from Eckert and Borbély:
Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbély regret the decision by the FIFA Council to not re-nominate them for the position of the chairmen of the two chambers of FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee.
The impending non-election will set the work of the Ethics Committee far back and is de facto the end of FIFA’s reform efforts.
It must be assumed that entire FIFA will suffer from this decision in the medium and long term.
The work of a credible and independent Ethics Committee is an important part of the FIFA reforms whose goal was to restore the trust of the public and other stakeholders.
Since 2015 the Investigatory Chamber has carried out 194 investigations and the Adjudicatory Chamber has sentenced more than 70 officials.
The impending and clearly politically motivated non-reappointment puts de facto an end to the reform efforts. This will inevitably lead to a renewed loss of trust and further hurt the already tarnished image of FIFA.
Consequently, the non-reappointment will have a negative impact on FIFA in the medium and long term.
The successors of both chairmen will have to familiarize themselves with the dossiers and the processes. The non-election will lead to long delays in current investigations and proceedings, and complicate the prosecution of violations of the Code of Ethics.
It appears that the heads of FIFA have attached greater weight to their own and political interests, than to the long-term interests of FIFA.
They have accepted jeopardizing FIFA’s integrity, and, hence, the future of the game.
The two chairmen Cornel Borbély and Hans-Joachim Eckert look back at the work accomplished by the Ethics Committee with pride.
They have enforced the Code of Ethics with independence and consistent legal work, and hence, have made sports history. Their work received the sympathy and support of reform-minded forces, for which they want to express their sincere gratitude.