UK parliament unit says it is appalled by FIFA’s handling of World Cup bids

Here are the pictures of Russian stadiums that will host FIFA World Cup 2018. Almost all of them are to be constructed together with new hotels and other infrastructure objects. (File Photo)
Here are the pictures of Russian stadiums that will host FIFA World Cup 2018. Almost all of them are to be constructed together with new hotels and other infrastructure objects. (File Photo)
A British parliament committee said it was “appalled”” about world soccer body FIFA’s handling of the awarding of 2018 World Cup to Russia.

In a report that also has a bearing on the awarding to Qatar of the 2022 World Cup even if that was not the focus of an enquiry by the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the parliamentary group said the conduct of members of FIFA’s executive committee merited a “full, urgent and independent investigation” of allegations of corruption and improper behavior.

The committee further called on FIFA thoroughly review of the governance of its bid processes and suggested it take as a model the International Olympic Committee’s handling of charges of bribery and corruption in Salt Lake City’s bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
The report was also critical of the English Football Association’s failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup, saying it “lacked a number of the components of a successful bid.” It called on the association to review its long-term strategy for engaging with FIFA and other international football authorities “in order to increase its influence, including with regard to governance reform.”

Committee chairman John Whittingdale said the enquiry had “shown beyond doubt that 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.”

Mr. Blatter was last month re-elected unchallenged for a fourth term after Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy amid charges of having bribed Caribbean soccer officials to secure their votes. FIFA suspended Mr. Bin Hammam pending the outcome of an investigation. Mr. Bin Hammam has denied the charges.

FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who also doubled as head of soccer in North and Central America as well as the Caribbean, resigned last month after he was suspended together with Mr. Bin Hammam. Mr. Warner was accused of colluding Mr. Bin Hammam. FIFA halted its investigation of Mr. Warner following his resignation.

The scandal is the worst in the 107-year history of FIFA and is compounded by a match-fixing scandal that spans the globe. On a visit to Zimbabwe, Mr. Blatter vowed on Tuesday that any official or player found guilty of match fixing would be banned from the beautiful game for life.

Mr. Blatter’s tough talk is unlikely to appease his many critics. The FIFA boss has so far resisted calls by among others the British parliamentary committee and the German soccer association to investigate the awarding of the World Cup.

In a letter to the committee, British newspaper The Sunday Times charged that Qatar had bribed to FIFA executive committee members to secure their votes for its World Cup bid. Qatar has denied any wrongdoing.

A former English Football Association boss testified that several committee members, including Mr. Warner had approached the soccer body with requests in exchange for pledges to support the English bid.

All in all, 10 of FIFA’s 24 executive committee members are under suspicion of corruption or improper behaviour. Mr. Blatter was cleared by FIFA’s ethics committee days before his re-election. In addition to the suspension of Messrs. Bin Hammam and Warner, two other committee members have been banned.

“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. We urge the FA to continue to press for real change in FIFA and to work with other national associations to ensure that it happens. We also call on FIFA to prove its commitment to increased openness and transparency by publishing its Ethics Committee report,” Mr. Whittingdale said.


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