An outsider to monitor FIFA?

Chung Mong Joon, who is expected to announce his candidature for the presidency of Fifa, is a critic of Sepp Blatter's regime. The South Korean has said that the successor must implement reforms in the corruption- tainted organisation.
Chung Mong Joon, who is expected to announce his candidature for the presidency of Fifa, is a critic of Sepp Blatter's regime. The South Korean has said that the successor must implement reforms in the corruption- tainted organisation.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

US prosecutors could take that route to ensure organisation carries out reforms

NEW YORK • American prosecutors could eventually try to impose a court-appointed monitor on Fifa to ensure that football's corruption-hit governing body cleans up its act. This is the view of attorneys who have helped troubled companies and other entities to reform.

Fifa's decision last week to establish its own task force to propose reforms has been blasted by critics. The latter say the organisation has shown over many years it is incapable of transforming from within.

Leading Fifa sponsors Coca-Cola and Visa have joined labour union and anti-corruption groups in demanding it agree to the establishment of a reform commission that is fully independent.

But there is little sign that Zurich-based Fifa will voluntarily heed calls for an independent commission or major change.

Another path to reform could emerge out of the ongoing United States court case against nine current and former officials from Fifa and related groups, plus five company executives. They were charged in May with bribery-related crimes and prosecutors say the investigation is far from over.

Legal experts said, in many other cases, outside monitors have been installed by US prosecutors to clean up corruption or other bad behaviour in organisations as diverse as major banks and labour unions.

Michael Cherkasky, for example, is now the monitor in global banking group HSBC after it settled money-laundering allegations with US authorities in 2012. He said prosecutors could choose to take the Fifa case beyond individual prosecutions and turn to broader reform.

"What we've found is putting someone in jail doesn't change the culture of an organisation," said Cherkasky. The former prosecutor has also been a monitor in the Los Angeles Police Department and Teamsters union.

"If you have a structural-cultural problem where there is enormous ability for the people in power to create great wealth and act corruptly, then the next person frequently takes advantage of that structure."

The US justice department has given no indication that it plans to follow the monitor path.

It has currently tagged Fifa and related bodies as victims of officials trying to profit off the sport for their own gain. Prosecutors in the case declined to comment on whether monitors could be considered.

In another development on the reforms front, South Korea's Chung Mong Joon, who is expected to announce his candidacy for the Fifa presidency next month, met potential rival Michel Platini at the Gold Cup final in the US on Sunday.

Chung called for "fair competition" should he enter the race.

The billionaire scion of the Hyundai conglomerate is one of the most influential figures in Asian football. He is also a trenchant critic of current president Sepp Blatter's regime and wants a new man to implement reforms at Fifa .

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'An outsider to monitor FIFA?'. Print Edition | Subscribe