KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Princess Haya of Jordan has led the critical chorus of disapproval of the sacking by FIFA of ethics bosses Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely.
The governing council of the world football federation approved the move on Tuesday when, at the behest of president Gianni Infantino, it nominated a new slate of judicial panel members for approval by congress.
Last year’s congress granted such powers to Infantino and his expanded council by removing the hitherto guaranteed independence of the judicial committees.
Swiss businessman Domenico Scala resigned as audit chairman in protest but Eckert and Borbely, German ethics judge and Swiss head investigator, decided to work on. Now they have gone too.
Princess Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, a progressive former president of the international equestrian federation, lent her voice to criticism that FIFA’s own reforms have been thrown into reverse.
She said: “The dismissal of Cornel Borbely and Hans-Joachim Eckert is a truly shameful act that removes the last possible shred of credibility from FIFA.
“To cut short their work, which was to expose the long-standing, deep rooted corruption makes a mockery of any claims of integrity from FIFA’s new leadership.”
Princess Haya’s brother, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, stood unsuccessfully for the presidency in both 2015 and 2016.
She added: “FIFA is once again showing itself to be the same organisation as it has always been; corrupt, opaque, unwilling to change and failing the people it was set up to represent.
“Eckert’s and Borbély’s departure is the latest in a long-line of indications that the current leadership is deaf to public opinion, making no effort to improve, not fit to lead and should stand down.
“Turning a blind eye to corruption in football sends entirely the wrong message to the world of sport.”
The Eckert’s original ethics partnership with United States attorney Michael Garcia proved dysfunctional because of the legal culture chasm between the two men.
However the partnership between Eckert and Borbely has worked far moe effectively. They share the same German language and Eckert, from Bavaria, was only ever a few hours’ distance from Borbely in Zurich.
The proposed new partnership between Colombian lawyer Maria Claudia Rojas the Greek former European Court of Justice president Vassilios Skouris
appears designed to make cooperation as awkward as possible.
Not only do they not share a common first language but Rojas is based not only on the opposite side of the Atlantic but the far side of South America.
The negative reaction to the move jolted a statement of self-defence from FIFA:
It said: “The proposed list of candidates for the Audit and Compliance Committee, the Governance Committee and the judicial bodies was agreed to following a thorough consultation process involving FIFA and the six confederations.
“The decision on the final list of candidates was then agreed to unanimously by the FIFA Council.
“These individuals have been chosen because they are recognised, high-profile experts in their respective fields. Moreover, they better reflect the geographic and gender diversity that must be a part of an international organisation like FIFA.”
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