Fifa ousts ethics team battling corruption cases

MANAMA (Bahrain) • Fifa's call to remove its ethics team is a "setback in the fight against corruption", one of the dismissed, investigator Cornel Borbely said yesterday.

World football's governing body recommended on Tuesday that Borbely, along with Hans-Joachim Eckert, the ethics judge who helped bring down former Fifa boss Sepp Blatter, not be re-elected at the Fifa Congress which takes place today in Bahrain. He also said there were "several hundred cases" of corruption pending.

The dramatic recommendation was taken by the all-powerful Fifa Council on Tuesday which recommended replacing Eckert with Vassilios Skouris of Greece, a former president of the European Court of Justice, and Borbely with Colombia's Maria Claudia Rojas.

"It's not a great day for Fifa," Eckert said.

The decision is controversial as critics have accused Fifa president Gianni Infantino of having a personal motive to replace Eckert and Borbely as an ethics investigation was launched against him last year.

The investigators said they learnt about their removal via their "mobile phones" when they landed in Bahrain on Tuesday evening.

Fifa's Council also decided on Tuesday to leave the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup open until August, after rejecting an attempt by the three-nation North American proposal to fast-track their plan.

The bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada remains the only one to host the 2026 event, but the council opted to give other possible bidders three more months.

While no rival bid has emerged, there have been media reports Morocco could join the race.

Fifa's current rotation policy states that the continental confederation which held either of the previous two events cannot bid, ruling Europe and Asia out of the initial 2026 running.

Potential bidders have until Aug 11 to submit their bids with a vote scheduled for next year in Moscow.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2017, with the headline 'Fifa ousts ethics team battling corruption cases'. Print Edition | Subscribe