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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FIFA set to appoint corruption prosecutor as advisers urge scrutiny of 2018, 2022 World Cups

GENEVA - FIFA ruling board members meet on Tuesday to appoint a corruption prosecutor who will be urged to investigate how hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were awarded.
As part of FIFA President Sepp Blatter's anti-corruption reforms, his executive committee in Zurich will choose lawyers to lead independent prosecuting and judging chambers of a revamped ethics court.
FIFA's top anti-corruption adviser, Mark Pieth, told The Associated Press the scheduled appointments are key to modernizing football's scandal-hit world governing body.
"They are absolutely fundamental to get this moving," said Pieth, who has led a 13-member panel advising FIFA since January.
Pieth's group has said the ethics officials must have authority to examine old cases, after finding that FIFA "insufficiently investigated" some allegations about World Cup bidding.
The December 2010 poll of FIFA's high command has been shrouded by claims that some received payments or sought unethical favours from bidders, and that several breached bidding rules by joining a pact to back Qatar and the Spain-Portugal bid. Russia won the 2018 rights and Qatar was selected for 2022 ahead of the United States in a final round of voting.
"We will want to meet the people who are going to be elected and make it clear what we expect of them," said Pieth, a Swiss law professor, in a telephone interview. "We must help these people to see that they get the right resources."
A leading candidate for the prosecutor's job is Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, who completed his term at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands last month.
Moreno-Ocampo's name is among four suggested by Pieth's panel to chair the investigation unit. Four more candidates have been proposed to chair the judging chamber, which will rule on FIFA cases and set sanctions.
Still, FIFA could decline the advice and opt for candidates proposed from elsewhere.
"We don't know if they are going to use our list," Pieth said. "I am hopeful that they will have the sense to use the names that met the requirements."
The new FIFA ethics bodies will also oversee vetting football officials for their integrity to hold office at FIFA.
Pieth's team — known as the Independent Governance Committee — agreed that FIFA's in-house judicial bodies needed credible leaders drawn from outside the so-called "football family." A new FIFA statute approved in May says candidates must have had no paid connection with football "during the four years preceding his term."
Pieth confirmed that "there are women" on his list — though FIFA reportedly told one panel member that female candidates were "entirely unacceptable" at this stage.
FIFA's stance comes as it prepares to welcome a woman at the executive committee table for the first time on Tuesday.
Burundi football president Lydia Nsekera was approved by FIFA's member countries in May to join the now 25-member ruling panel, fulfilling a promise in Blatter's reform agenda. Nsekera is also a member of Pieth's panel.
The meeting falls days after a long-running World Cup financial scandal flared up.
FIFA published a Swiss prosecutor's report last Wednesday which finally identified former president Joao Havelange and Ricardo Teixeira, former head of the 2014 World Cup organizing committee, for taking millions of dollars in kickbacks from broadcasting deals in the 1990s.
Pieth, who had been blocked by Swiss courts from seeing the court dossier, said he was "very happy" it was published.
"For me, it's the right moment. It reminds people from the (executive committee) that they really have a problem," the former United Nations investigator said. "It goes way beyond looking at individual people in the executive committee and even a president."
In the days since, Blatter has defended his role in the affair, said his mentor Havelange should be stripped of his FIFA honorary presidency and cast doubt on how Germany won hosting rights in 2000 for the 2006 World Cup.
Because FIFA has a 10-year statute of limitations, the new ethics court is unlikely to get involved.
Also Tuesday, FIFA is slated to approve an upgraded code of ethics for all football officials, players and referees and discuss Kosovo's status in international football.
Blatter said in May that Kosovo's national and club teams should play international friendly matches, ahead of the Balkan province getting formal recognition of statehood from the United Nations.