When it comes to brassiness, one really cannot do much better than FIFA. After having survived one of the sport’s world greatest corruption scandals, it has resumed its Holier-than-thou approach to the rest of the world. Reports have surfaced that the organization, on the eve of its annual congress in Bahrain, would “replace the leadership of its ethics committee, in effect dismissing the judge and the prosecutor whose investigations resulted in the suspensions of Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and other top officials.” It would certainly appear they are punishing those very persons the organization selected to help them clean house.
One might think the organization would show some contrition, at least as long as the U.S. Justice Department is still actively investigating the organization and its members for wide ranging corruption. While the numbers of now former FIFA officials who have pled guilty is well over 15, the organization does not seem to have learned much from the experience, in the way of transparency or accountability going forward. It makes The Man From FCPA wonder just how long the statute of limitations might be for bribery, extortion, money laundering, and a wide range of other corporate offenses. For itself, FIFA has taken the position that it was the actual victim in all these shenanigans.
The two individuals, Judge Hans-Joachim Eckert and Prosecutor Cornel Borbely, “decried the decision, saying that they were eager to continue their work and that removing them during continuing investigations of corruption in world soccer would lead to an inevitable loss of trust in FIFA.” In a statement they said, “It appears that the heads of FIFA have attached greater weight to their own and political interests than to the long-term interests of FIFA.”
When a corrupt organization does all it can to avoid investigation, up to and including firing those charged with internal investigations, only to replace the investigators with more pliant operatives, one can only hope the Justice Department is watching and at some point it will exercise some oversight to restore the world’s faith in the governing body of the world’s most popular sports organization.