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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fifa ethics official Guenter Hirsch resigns in protest

A top official has resigned from Fifa's ethics commission after claiming the organisation showed "no real interest" in tackling alleged corruption.
 
  Fifa headquarters Fifa's headquarters in Zurich
German lawyer Guenter Hirsch's decision to quit comes weeks after Russia and Qatar were controversially awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Allegations of corruption dogged Fifa before and during the election.
But in a statement football's governing body questioned Hirsch's attendance record at ethics committee meetings.
In a letter to ethics commission president Claudio Sulser, the out-going Hirsch wrote: "The events of the past few weeks have raised and strengthened the impression that responsible persons in Fifa have no real interest in playing an active role in resolving, punishing and avoiding violations against ethic regulations of Fifa."
The BBC contacted Hirsch on Monday but the 67-year-old he said he "will not and cannot" say more about his resignation from the organisation.
Fifa responded by issuing a statement which read: "As an independent judicial body, the [ethics] committee has decision-making power and the option to establish any sanctions they deem appropriate.
"Notably, the ethics committee had the mandate to overlook the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 Fifa World Cups and to ensure that the rules of conduct and the Code of Ethics were adhered to during this process."
The statement added: "Hirsch was a member of the ethics committee since the creation of this committee and attended the inaugural meeting in October 2006.
"Since then, Hirsch has not attended any other meetings of the committee, despite being invited to attend every meeting held in the past four years."
Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter reveals Russia as the hosts of the 2018 World Cup
During the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process, Fifa suspended executive committee members Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii over allegations they offered to sell their votes, something the pair vehemently denied.
They both subsequently missed December's ballot in which Russia was chosen to host the 2018 tournament and Qatar the 2022 finals, following a secret vote by the remaining 22 committee members.
England gained only two votes as Russia was handed the 2018 World Cup, while Australia fared even worse, receiving only one vote as Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 event.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, one of the figureheads of England's bid, told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that he was personally misled by a number of Fifa executives when he lobbied them for support.
He said: "We had a great bid - technically, I think, by far the best bid - and I think the presentation we made was compelling. I definitely had a number of those Fifa executives who looked me in the eye and shook my hand and said, 'Don't worry, we're with you.'
"I'm afraid that the world of football governance is rather murky in that way."
Last week, Fifa president Sepp Blatter announced plans to set up an anti-corruption committee to police the organisation as he seeks re-election for a fourth four-year term.
But Cameron said: "I think we will have to judge that by the results."
Meanwhile, on Monday night Fifa hosts the Ballon D'or awards, with Spanish pair Andres Iniesta and Xavi competing with Lionel Messi for the World Player of the Year trophy.