Not all the big transfers were wrapped up by midnight on January 31. One of the most intriguing was not signed and sealed until February: this is the ‘deal’ which sees Chris Eaton quitting his anti-matchfix role at FIFA to sign on with the Qatar-based sports security outfit, ICSS.
The timing, from FIFA’s point of view, was not ideal but ICSS has insisted there is no bad feeling between the two organisations.
The ex-Interpol Australian has brought a high profile to football’s campaign against corruption out on the pitch, set up a significant worldwide network of investigators and shaken up more than a few complacent national associations and leagues.
Not the least of Eaton’s next challenge will be proving that an organisation which is only six months old has not bitten off more than it can chew – and doing so without the status of representing an international sports federation (unless ICSS is to be contracted, in due course, by the likes of FIFA and the IOC).
The privately-owned International Centre for Sports Security was created last September by Qatari Mohammed Hanzab and has undertaken a major recruiting raid of leading specialist personnel in the relevant sectors.
Eaton is ‘merely’ the latest.
Executive director Helmut Spahn, Germany’s head of security for the 2006 World Cup, said: “One of the major needs for sports events is that people must feel comfortable, safe and secure. They want to have good sporting entertainment but they must also believe in the result of the game. If people feel safe and secure but do not believe in the result of the game then you have a problem.”
Hence ICSS has been in exploratory discussions with Brazilian organisers of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
As far as Eaton is concerned, he and Spahn’s paths crossed, not unnaturally, at a number of international conferences.
“We found there were various ideas on which we could work together,” said Spahn, “and, since Chris is highly-respected person in the field of combating matchfixing, the result is that he will join ICSS in May.
“He has a great network all over the world and great experience in this field. From out point of view, we are saving ourselves time by bringing in that knowledge.
“I think one of his biggest motivations was that, while he was working for FIFA on the problems of matchfixing in football, we are an international centre for sports security so Chris can bring his experience to bear in other fields of sports too.
“We have been talking to FIFA and explained the situation and there has been no criticism of us from FIFA.
“It was the same situation with me and the German football federation. There were a lot of projects I had implemented for them and when I talked to my president he said: ‘But Helmut, there is no-one to replace you.’ So I said: ‘I will help you find another guy,’ which I did. In the same way, Chris will help FIFA to find his own replacement.”
By Keir Radnedge