FIFA: Independent audit committee president resigns

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

Domenico Scala, a Swiss businessman and the President of the independent FIFA audit and compliance committee, has resigned. This is a blow for Gianni Infantino, the new President of FIFA, who has been in office for only three months.

Scala’s shock resignation follows a resolution passed on 13 May, 2016 by the 66th FIFA Annual Congress, meeting in Mexico City, giving power to the FIFA Council, which has replaced the disgraced FIFA Executive Committee, to dismiss members of specialist committees, such as the ethics committee and audit and compliance committee. Previously, this power resided in the hands of the FIFA Congress, which meets once a year and comprises representatives of the 211 member associations of FIFA.

Scala claims that the new FIFA Council, which is headed by the FIFA President, will have power to “impede investigations” by the members of committees, such as his own, and effectively deprives them of their independence and puts them “in danger of becoming auxiliary agents of those whom they should actually supervise.”

This, he argues, is not only a backward step, but also puts in jeopardy the reforms that have been introduced into FIFA, as a result of the recent scandals. He further claims that this “new rule undermines a central pillar of the good governance of FIFA.”

Infantino, defending this change in the rules, argues that it was introduced as part of a “democratic processs” and poses the question “do we wait one year for congress to dismiss committee members who should be changed?”

Sports commentators are generally of the view that this latest development does little, if anything, to improve the widely held low standing of FIFA, as a sports governing body, and the harm that has been done to the ‘beautiful game’. And, I would add, is there anyone who cares about football who would disagree with that?

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic, Author and Member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’