Not enough that FIFA’s executive committee will hear later this week a confrontational report from restructuring expert Mark Pieth: the unresolved ISL issue will hang, like a dark cloud, over their deliberations.
Basel professor Pieth was appointed formally last October by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to head the array of task forces delving in and our of the world football federation maze.
Then his remit was specifically to consider how FIFA might look in the future but the more he learned the more he discovered the relevance of past sins of financial patronage, minimal accounting of resources squandered and deals in dark corners across a wide swathe of FIFA business.
Pieth has not quite let the Swiss cat out of his Basel bag in a number of pre-presentation interviews but he has said enough to indicate that anything less than an indirect dressing-down will be a major let-down for all those impatient for a top-level cleansing.
He says: “It will be pretty tough. There are a few issues that will need heavy negotiation. If they are wise, they will pick up most everything that is put before them . . . They have rules, they have sanctionable offences. They have just not applied them.”
The 13-member panel has produced a 15-page report which is already on Blatter’s desk and will be put before the exco. Within weeks Pieth intends to make the document available for the football public to read and digest via the internet.
He appears less concerned with retribution for the various Adamus, Temariis, Teixeiras etc than with preventing their like from sneaking inside the bank vaults in future.
Pieth says: “They have a horrible reputation. They should know that and they they have lost a few people recently from high places under allegations or proven allegations, even. That’s really bad for them, and they have to tidy up quickly.”
It is understood Pieth wants FIFA to consider importing ‘non-executive’ directors from outside the family which is likely to be one of the most contentious issues within an exco which guards jealously its ‘private club’ privileges.
“They need people who have not been working with FIFA for ages, that’s crucial,” insists Pieth. “Also, we want to see an ethics institution which merits that name, which is independent and tough and strong. That is really one of the major issues.”
Pieth would also like to see the ISL case file published as soon as possible and the ‘illicit payments’ list publishing. Achieving that remains mired in the Swiss Supreme Court process. Two anonymous objectors – reported to be former president Joao Havelange and his ex-son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira – want it kept secret.
FIFA was also a party to attempts to keep the file closed but has now withdrawn its objection when it was revealed that Blatter and Co appeared to be trying to face two different ways on the issue.
To this extent it is not only FIFA which has an issue over transparency but the entire legal and societal context within which it operates.
By Keir Radnedge