ZURICH: In an admission that its own work has been less than transparent, FIFA’s own ethics committee wants a loosening of the confidentiality controls binding some of its work writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The committee came in for heavy recent criticism after the former World Cup assessor, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, was handed a seven-year ban from football but – in Kafkaesque manner – without any evidential reason being published.
Mayne-Nicholls, former president of the Chilean federation, queried the nature of publication of the disciplinary sentence and indicated an intention to appeal.
Suspicion about the committee’s work has also been fuelled by its inability to state the identities of any subjects of investigation. This has added to scepticism about the credibility of its action concerning individuals involved in the controversial 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.
Permission for change is to be sought from the world federation’s executive committee. This could raise issues of conflict of interest since one or more members are considered as possible subjects for investigation.
In a joint statement the investigatory and adjudicatory chairmen, Cornel Borbely and Hans-Joachim Eckert, stated that the value of transparency outweighed overarching concerns for privacy.
The undertaking of proceedings should fall in line “with state criminal proceedings in Switzerland and Europe” and hence permit identification of accused parties.
The statement in full:
FIFA Ethics Committee calls for greater opportunities for transparency in proceedings against accused parties
ZURICH: The independent FIFA Ethics Committee is calling for greater opportunities for transparency in its proceedings.
More specifically, the chairmen of the two chambers will apply to the FIFA executive committee for the ability to confirm ongoing proceedings against accused parties upon request and to justify judgements publically [sic], even if the decision has not yet become legally effective.
“As it stands, the FIFA Code of Ethics prevents the names of accused parties within an investigation from being disclosed upon request.This is inconsistent with state criminal proceedings in Switzerland and Europe, which would provide significantly greater transparency”, said Cornel Borbély, the chairman of the FIFA Ethics Committee’s investigatory chamber.
“Transparency should be accorded greater importance in the future when weighing up the protection of privacy against disclosure.”
As part of these transparency reforms, the chairman of the Ethics Committee’s adjudicatory chamber, Hans-Joachim Eckert, is proposing that the Ethics Committee be able to publicly justify its decisions immediately.
“This should be regardless of whether or not the football official in question is appealing the decision. Where there has been public misinformation, the Ethics Committee must also have the right to offer rectification,” is Eckert’s view.
The two independent chairmen of the Ethics Committee are of the opinion that greater transparency in investigations would help efforts to uncover and clear up fraud, as it would encourage potential informants to support the proceedings.
They also believe that transparency will have a preventative effect, as copycat culprits will also have to face exposure. For these reasons, the two chairmen are advocating the following, in accordance with and within the framework of their capabilities:
1. In important cases, the Ethics Committee may provide information regarding ongoing proceedings.
2. Where it is in the public interest, the Ethics Committee may confirm the existence of ongoing proceedings upon request.
3. The Ethics Committee will publicly justify the decisions it takes immediately, regardless of whether or not the football official in question is appealing the decision.
4. Where there has been public misinformation, the Ethics Committee may offer rectification.