(WFI) FIFA has declined to comment on scathing criticism about the crisis-hit organisation’s lack of transparency dished out by influential IOC member Dick Pound.
Speaking at the Play the Game conference in Cologne on Monday, Pound was typically forthright about the IOC’s shortcomings but especially those of FIFA, which is still reeling from a series of bribery scandals.
In a session on corruption in sport, he spoke about the amount of media attention focused on the IOC’s independent investigation into the Salt Lake City bidding scandal that he led before putting the boot into FIFA.
“When I compare that firestorm of media attention to the relatively benign, again with certain exceptions, treatment of the remarkable conduct of FIFA and certain of its executives, I am astonished,” he said.
“This is a far more serious and far more extensive problem for the world’s most popular sport than the relatively narrow conduct, improper as it was, of a few IOC members.”
The Canadian, an IOC member since 1978, went on to slam Sepp Blatter’s handling of the World Cup bid bribery scandals and the subsequent FIFA presidential election scandal that brought down Asian football boss Mohamed Bin Hammam.
“FIFA has fallen far short of a credible demonstration that it recognizes the many problems it faces, that it has the will to solve them, that it is willing to be transparent about what it is doing and what it finds, and that its conduct in the future will be such that the public can be confident in the governance of the sport,” Pound told delegates.
“At the moment, I do not believe that such confidence exists or would be justified if it did.”
Over the past year, FIFA has handed down bans to Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii. Other FIFA Ex-Co members, including Ricardo Teixeira, Issa Hayatou and Worawi Makudi, were accused of asking for improper inducements during the 2018/2022 World Cup bid process; the allegations were not proven. But it’s the recent fall-out from Bin Hammam’s lifetime ban that has triggered the most damaging global headlines for FIFA.
FIFA today declined to react to Pound’s scathing criticism.
“We take note of these statements but have no comment to make,” a FIFA spokesperson said in an email to INSIDER.
Blatter has promised to publicly unveil radical anti-corruption reforms “not just touch-ups” later this month after the approval of his FIFA Ex-Co colleagues.
Following the Salt Lake City scandal, ten IOC members quit or were banned for life for accepting cash or other bribes from the US city’s bid team. IOC reforms followed and the organisation eventually rebuilt its reputation.
Pound admitted that the amount of media attention focused on the IOC during the inquiry in 1998 and 1999 came close to destroying the organisation.
“It was only our ability to demonstrate that we took the situation seriously and that we were determined to fix the problem which, in the end, saved the day,” he said.
As the IOC did, Pound suggested FIFA should involve third parties to help usher in reforms and restore the integrity of world football’s governing body.
“If I were an independent advisor to FIFA today, I would counsel it to take similar measures. The risk of not doing so is that no one will believe the outcomes of whatever process it may be implementing. A good part of the problem, of course, is that we simply do not know what is being done,” he said.
Under Blatter’s vow to clean-up FIFA, the Swiss wants to overhaul the FIFA ethics committee and form a “solutions committee”. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, opera star Placido Domingo and Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff have been asked to get involved.
Details of his reforms will be revealed at the press conference that follows the Oct. 20 to 21 FIFA Ex-Co meeting.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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