Date
22 January 2017
FIFA officials conduct deliberations in a sound-proof basement of the group's headquarters in Zurich, according to former World Cup star Zico. Photo: Internet
FIFA officials conduct deliberations in a sound-proof basement of the group's headquarters in Zurich, according to former World Cup star Zico. Photo: Internet

FIFA chiefs traded favors to avoid conflict

FIFA chiefs exchanged favors for years to avoid conflict in a governance model that resembles a private club.

The revelations were made by executives of national soccer organizations and sports groups.

Six current and former executives including Cayman Islands banker Jeffrey Webb, have been accused by United States prosecutors of crimes including bribery, racketeering and money laundering, prompting FIFA President Sepp Blatter to announce plans to step down, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Chuck Blazer, one of the six, said executives received bribes to vote on the 1998 and 2010 World Cup hosts, according to testimony released by a New York court last week.

FIFA officials get elected by virtue of the power within the respective regional confederations.

The arrangement is about swapping favors, said Zico, the former Brazil star who helped organized the 2014 tournament, which generates as much as US$5 billion from each World Cup.

“When you come into soccer politics, you have to repay the person who invited you.”

The 24-person executive board meets about five times a year in a sound-proof basement of FIFA’s glass-fronted headquarters on a hilltop in Zurich.

They fly in from different parts of the world, stay in five-star hotels and rule on everything from the dates of the World Cup to the regulations of the sport.

For their work, they receive a US$300,000 stipend plus expenses.

A FIFA spokeswoman referred Bloomberg News to June 2 comments by Domenico Scala, chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, who is helping lead changes at the organization.

He said the structure of the executive panel is “at the core of the current issues FIFA is facing.”

According to Michel d’Hooghe, a Belgian surgeon who has been an executive committee member since 1988, top officials have held no more than five votes in the last quarter of a century in an attempt to avoid rifts.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RA

EJI Weekly Newsletter