By Jonathan Copping, Sports Lawyer, Bolt Burdon Law Firm, London, United Kingdom
Joseph Weiler, a former member of FIFA’s Governance Committee, has filed an ethics complaint against Football’s World Governing Body.
Weiler, who resigned in May, following FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s decision to fire Miguel Maduro, the former chairman of FIFA’s Governance Committee.
It is understood that Weiler’s complaint covers a number of issues raised by Miguel Maduro in his recent appearance before the British Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
In the course of this appearance, Miguel Maduro stated that Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s Secretary-General, had argued with him that barring Russia’s Vitaly Mutko from the FIFA Council could put at risk next year’s World Cup in Russia and Infantino’s own Presidency.
Miguel Maduro stated that key to the disagreement was the Governance Committee’s decision to bar Mutko from joining FIFA’s Council. Maduro also stated that he was implementing FIFA’s own rule that provides that it must remain politically neutral and that national associations must remain free from governmental interference. Mutko is the President of the Russian Football Federation and, currently, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia.
In front of the Parliamentary Select Committee, Maduro stated:
“The secretary-general [Fatma Samoura] made it clear [the Mutko decision] was extremely problematic and we needed to find a solution to declare Mr. Mutko eligible. She said that the World Cup would be a disaster and that as a consequence the continued presidency [of Infantino] would be in question”.
The recent complaint by Weiler and the testimony of Maduro raises serious questions whether FIFA can abide by its new anti-corruption structures. The reforms were introduced following the high-profile corruption scandals within FIFA, leading to the arrest of a number of senior FIFA executives; however, it has not been plain sailing for FIFA since the introduction of the reforms.
Maduro was fired by FIFA in May after only eight months in the job. Separately, Cornel Borbely and Hans-Joachim Eckert, the heads of FIFA’s investigatory chamber and adjudicatory chamber respectively, were not nominated for re-election by the FIFA Council prior to the FIFA Annual Congress in May. It was reported, at the time, that Borbely and Eckert were investigating several hundred cases of wrongdoing.
FIFA declined to comment on Weiler’s complaint; perhaps leaving it open that there is some merit in it. As the old English proverb has it: ‘there is no smoke without fire!’
Jonathan Copping can be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@boltburdon.co.uk’