POSTED: December 7th 2010

JOHN GOODBODY: IOC holds the last key to unlocking those FIFA claims

THE JOHN GOODBODY COLUMN / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

LONDON, Dec 07: Could the Olympic Movement be the body to persuade FIFA to reform itself and have an independent investigation into the allegations of corrupt practices in the most powerful federation in world sport ? I hope so, but I am not holding my breath.

Football’s world governing body has itself refused to reopen an inquiry into allegations that three of its executive committee members were among those who received a total of around $100m in bribes from the now-bankrupt sports marketing company ISL between 1989 and 1999.

The three men are Issa Hayatou, the president of the Confederation of African Football, Nicolas Leoz, of the South American confederation and Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira. All three voted last week in Zurich when there was the highly controversial decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

There is usually little way that FIFA does what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants. Football’s arrogant reluctance for many years to embrace a proper drug-testing programme, its failure to have effective legislation in place when players were found positive for performance-enhancing substances, its indifference to the views of the World Anti-Doping Agency and  its lack of enthusiasm to follow the lead of other international federations have become notorious.

Expulsion threat

For football, there has always been the threat of expulsion from the Olympic Movement but that does not bother FIFA. As one leading anti-drugs campaigner on the IOC admitted to me once:”This is never going to happen.”

FIFA is not particularly concerned about the Olympics, even if many of its member countries regard the tournament at the Games as the second most important in their calendar after the World Cup.
And when FIFA is being criticised, with much justification, by the British media, it closes ranks, although following the articles in The Sunday Times in October, it did suspend two of its members, Amos Adamu and Raynald Temarii, while the investigation takes place. The pair protested their innocence.

As far as the allegations last week by BBC Panorama against the other three are concerned, there is one lever that is being used.

Hayatou is an IOC member and the IOC is mindful that 12 years ago, it went through a ‘cleansing’ process itself, leading to 10 members either resigning or being expelled from membership in the Salt Lake City ‘cash for votes’ scandal for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Zero tolerance

Since then, there has been a rigorous system in place, with Dr Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, to his credit, ensuring that this is carried out.

The IOC  has reiterated its “zero tolerance” stance on corruption and has therefore asked the BBC for all the relevant evidence on Hayatou and has referred the whole matter to its ethics commission. Hayatou denies any malpractice and has consulted his lawyers over claims that he was paid about $15,000 in 1995 as part of the company’s strategy of paying inducements to sports officials for winning broadcast rights.

Hayatou has said that the cash payment was handed to the African confederation to help fund its 40th anniversary celebrations and this transaction was recorded in the organisation’s minutes.

Hayatou may well be exonerated with the IOC finding no evidence of any unethical behaviour. However, if it should discover malpractice then it should also be asking Sepp Blatter, the FIFA  president, what he is going to do about it.

The IOC should expect scrupulously ethical behaviour by Blatter. After all, he is an IOC member.

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2008 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 11th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001

Keywords · John GoodbodY · IOC · FIFA · Hayatou · Adamu · Temarii · Leoz · Teixeira

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