(WFI) Thomas Bach says the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA is worse than the IOC’s Salt Lake City affair, saying reforms are “painful but necessary”.
The FIFA scandal dominated questions to Bach at the IOC press conference held Monday night following a two-day executive board meeting.
Amid the worst scandal in its 111-year history, Sepp Blatter announced his resignation last week, as the FBI’s ongoing bribery probe threatened to snare the FIFA chief.
Referring to the Salt Lake City cash-for-votes scandal when IOC members were expelled for involvement in a bribery scheme linked to the awarding of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Bach said the IOC had learned the hard way.
“We also know from our experience that putting everything on the desk can be a painful experience but it is absolutely necessary to do this as we have seen from our own history,” he said, adding that the reforms that followed way the IOC “could restore its credibility”.
The 61-year-old German admitted that the “scope” of the FIFA scandal was of a greater magnitude to the Salt Lake City affair.
“There is almost no comparison to what happened with Salt Lake City and to what is now at stake with regard to FIFA,” he said.
“Corruption issues 15 years ago were related to the election of an Olympic host city,” he explained.
“In FIFA there are many other facets… you see many other allegations with regards to TV rights with regard to sponsoring rights of national federations and you see amounts of money being allegedly involved which again cannot be compared to what was at stake for the IOC.”
While saying it was “not up to the IOC to give advice”, Bach said FIFA could learn from the Olympic reforms which included the introduction of term and age limits. The German suggested the so-called Agenda 2020 reform package passed by the IOC in December would be instructive for FIFA.
“We can only encourage FIFA to continue the wave of reforms which have been initiated,” he said of the botched reforms process spearheaded by Blatter since 2011 following the World Cup bribery scandal.
“We appreciate there is a readiness for reforms now and for substantial reforms.”
Asked by INSIDER if it was time for Blatter to step away from FIFA’s newly-launched reforms having presided over the previous farcical process, Bach said: “This is something FIFA has to decide.
“FIFA is a federation in its own right and it is not for the IOC to interfere.”
FIFA said Blatter made his excuses in April for not attending this week’s IOC briefing for the 2022 Winter Olympic bid cities Almaty and Beijing. Bach said he had informed the IOC “10 or 14 days ago” of his no-show due to “other commitments”.
Before he announced his resignation last week, those other commitments may have involved travel to the Women’s World Cup final in Canada.
FIFA director and Blatter confidante Walter Gagg is standing in for the Swiss 79-year-old at the Lausanne meeting.
“Excellent,” Gagg answered smiling when asked by INSIDER on Tuesday how Blatter was holding up one week after he shocked world football by revealing his plans to quit after 17 years in charge.
Written by Mark Bisson