KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: Thomas Bach has warned FIFA, from the experience of the Olympic movement, that rooting out a culture of corruption can be a long and painful process.
The German president of the International Olympic Committee was addressing world football delegates at the opening ceremony ahead of the world federation’s congress in Zurich.
More than a decade ago the Olympic movement had to tread the road to reform after the Salt Lake City scandal. Now FIFA had to follow its example in the wake of the various controversies which had assailed it over the past years – from the World Cup bid scandal, to the cash-for-votes saga ahead of the 2011 presidential election to Wednesday’s arrests and indictments in Zurich and New York.
Bach acknowledged: “These are are difficult days for FIFA . . . now all football’s fans are following this congress with great attention and I am one of them.
“In our Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendations the zero tolerance policy in the fight against corruption has been strengthened.
“We know from experience that this fight is challenging and can be very painful. We also know that there is no other way to ensure credibility. We have seen this in business, in politics and in society.
“Therefore I would like to encourage you to continue and strengthen your co-operation with the relevant authorities to shed full light on these matters and to take all necessary measures within the new structures to address these grave allegations.
“I am confident that, by following such a way of transparency with determination, you, the guardians of football, will overcome these challenges and you then will make your sport shine once again.”
Bach went on to look forward optimistically to football’s place in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year and hailed the legacy of last year’s World Cup through which the IOC could use “many of its venue and enjoy the participation of already experienced volunteers and officials.”
He said: “Also, these 2016 Olympic Games will leave a great legacy to the Brazilians with a hugely improved infrastucture in transport, housing, sports and – most important – on the human scale with a strong message of respect and tolerance.”
Returning to the theme of Olympic/football partnership Bach forecast: “These Olympic Games will also offer FIFA an excellent showcase in this great country of Brazil.
“In both the preparations for, and organisation of, this Olympic football tournament we are counting on close co-operation with FIFA.”
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