British committee urges FIFA to reform

A committee of British lawmakers says that Sepp Blatter’s re-election as FIFA president shows that ”nothing has changed” at world soccer’s governing body despite accusations of corruption and disquiet over its World Cup bidding process.

A report by the British parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport committee urged FIFA to reopen the investigation it abandoned last month when Jack Warner – one of those accused of corruption – resigned as vice president.

FIFA halted its inquiry without finding anyone guilty of wrongdoing.

England’s Football Association was left isolated within world soccer after leveling accusations of bribery and calling for more transparency in the way FIFA awarded the right to host the World Cup.

The report criticises FIFA for the reaction to claims about bribery by

members, and about unethical behaviour by members during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid campaigns.

The committee also backed the BBC’s decision to screen a Panorama investigation into allegations of FIFA corruption in the same week as the 2018 vote – former bid chief executive Andy Anson called the decision "unpatriotic”.

The timing and content of the Panorama programme were "amply justified by the public interest in FIFA’s governance and, more generally, in independent and impartial journalism”, says the report.

The report says the committee was "appalled” by the allegations of corruption made against FIFA members during their inquiry and there should have been a full and independent investigation.

"Instead, FIFA has given every impression of wishing to sweep all allegations

of misconduct under the carpet and of dismissing anyone bringing allegations to them with an approach bordering on contempt,” says the report.

One such issue concerned allegations of unethical behaviour made by former

England 2018 bid leader Lord Triesman against four FIFA members, which led to the FA commissioning barrister James Dingemans to review evidence to back up his claims.

The MPs’ enquiry also revealed claims by the Sunday Times that two FIFA members received bribes to vote for Qatar 2022’s World Cup bid.

FIFA said there was no evidence found by Dingemans to support further action, but the committee disputes this.

"We find this response disappointing and inadequate,” says the report.

"While the review does not confirm the allegations made by Lord Triesman,

neither does it refute them.

"It does find enough corroborative evidence to merit further investigation.”

The MPs do say it is "frustrating and disappointing” that Triesman did not

raise his allegations of corruption when he first became aware of them. The

report also calls FIFA’s decision to drop the bribery investigation following

the resignation of vice-president Jack Warner "extraordinary”.

"It suggests that nothing has changed,” says the report. "As a first step

towards restoring confidence we call upon FIFA to publish the ethics committee report.”

Committee chairman John Whittingdale said: "FIFA’s governance and its process for awarding competitions is in need of fundamental reform.

Yet the re-election of Sepp Blatter and the decision to drop the FIFA ethics

committee investigation following Jack Warner’s resignation suggest nothing has changed.

"The credibility of FIFA has been hugely damaged and it is now up to Mr

Blatter to deliver on his promises made at the time of his re-election and to

show that allegations of misconduct and corruption will no longer be swept under the carpet.”

Committee member Damian Collins added: "There was £15million FA money and more than £2million public money from local authorities spent on the bid. The public have a right to know if this money was spent well.

"FIFA have been contemptuous and dismissive of the allegations raised in this inquiry and there is no appetite to have a proper investigation.”