ZURICH: Transparency International has returned to the attack on FIFA and, more specifically, on Michael Garcia, the world football federation’s investigating prosecutor writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Garcia was appointed after a new, further-reaching ethics code system was created by the reform process launched in the autumn of 2011.
He was not the first – or even second or third – choice of governance adviser Mark Pieth but was recommended by Interpol secretary-general Ronald Noble.
Transparency International was always bound to keep a close eye on Garcia, given its misgivings over the reforms. TI considered the process flawed because Pieth was paid as a consultant by FIFA and thus, it held, could not be considered truly independent.
Sylvia Schenk, TI’s senior sports adviser, has questioned what she perceives as Garcia’s lack of rigour over the two major issues to cross his desk – the 2018 and 2022 World Cup awards and the life ban on former Asian confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam.
In an interview with the Press Association’s Martyn Ziegler, Schenk complained: “We are back to square one. We asked, one and a half years ago, for an independent investigation into all the allegations about the World Cup bidding and we still do not know what is going on.
“If the investigation into the awarding of World Cups in 2018 and 2022 is not transparent, few people will believe its outcome and FIFA will lose credibility.”
As for Bin Hammam, the Qatari was banned for life from football at FIFA’s second attempt last December. He had resisted punishment over bribery allegations only to fall foul of claims of ‘conflict of interest’ over the misuse of AFC funds.
Bin Hammam denied all the accusations but, ultimately, walked away from the game anyway.
Schenk added: “No one knows what kind of conflict of interest we are talking about. Conflict of interest is usually viewed as less bad behaviour than corruption, yet Bin Hammam is banned for life while all the people charged with corruption by FIFA in 2010 received two or three-year bans.
“Lots of other people in FIFA have had allegations against them of conflict of interest but nothing has happened.”
Garcia’s activities came in for doubt earlier this year when he issued a statement saying he had concluded his own inquiries into the ISL scandal and would be reporting back to the FIFA exco later this month.
This suggested he had decided, off his own bat, to draw a hasty line across the most long-running corruption scandal in FIFA’s history.
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