The anti-corruption expert appointed by FIFA to advise on modernizing reforms and repairing its scandal-hit reputation promises a ”tough” report to soccer’s governing body.
Mark Pieth told the Associated Press that FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s executive committee would be wise to accept ”most everything” when the proposals are presented Friday. The Swiss law professor’s 13-member panel includes soccer officials, sponsors and experts in clean government.
”It’s going to be pretty tough. There are a few issues that will need heavy negotiation,” Pieth said in an interview at his University of Basel office. ”If they are wise, they will pick up most everything that is put before them.”
Pieth panel’s, called the Independent Governance Committee, has examined the darkest chapters of FIFA’s recent history – including alleged bribery and vote-rigging in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests and its presidential election – to help understand how FIFA functions.
”They have rules, they have sanctionable offenses,” Pieth said. ”They have just not applied them.”
FIFA has already received the panel’s 15-page interim report, which Pieth will explain in detail to Blatter’s high command during its two-day meeting beginning Thursday.
Pieth will seek support for radical reforms from veteran FIFA power-brokers, including some who were cleared of suspected wrongdoing or have seen long-standing allies removed from office or leave with their integrity damaged.
”They have a horrible reputation. They should know that,” Pieth said. ”And they have lost a few people recently from high places under allegations or proven allegations, even. That’s really bad for them, and they have to tidy up quickly.”
Though Pieth will not reveal detailed proposals before Friday, some principles are key if FIFA is to take his work seriously.
He wants FIFA to appoint outsiders – not those from Blatter’s ”football family” – in key positions, plus create a truly independent process to investigate alleged corruption, overseen by a restructured ethics committee.
”People who have not been working with FIFA for ages. That is absolutely crucial,” Pieth said. ”We will definitely want to see an (ethics) institution there that merits that name – that is independent and tough and strong. That is really one of the major issues.”
Still, the former United Nations investigator insists that his job is not to re-examine previous allegations of impropriety.
”I am not worried by the people who are outgoing and have a problem, a real straightforward ethics problem. There have been quite a few. My challenge is more to convince those who stay,” he said.
In the name of transparency, Pieth will also publish the interim 15-page report next month for everyone to see.
”I will throw it out shortly and it will be readable,” he said.