Interpol has suspended its agreement with FIFA because of the United States and Swiss Justice investigations into corruption against football’s world governing body.
The decision by the world police co-ordination authority shocked FIFA and raised significant questions about the ongoing efficacy of FIFA’s campaign against matchfixing.
A partnership, targeting match manipulation, was launched to great fanfare in May 2011 with FIFA paying €20m to fund a 10-year ‘integrity in sport’ programme.
Then general secretary Ronald Noble was a regular speaker at major FIFA events until before his departure last year.
The suspension decision was taken by Noble’s successor, Jürgen Stock, and endorsed by Interpol’s executive committee at this week’s three-day meeting at the General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon.
From this point the world police body will freeze the use of FIFA’s financial contribution.
It is also a further significant reputational blow because the FIFA agreement included a clause stating that ‘the funding party declares notably that its activities are compatible with the principles, aims and activities of Interpol.”
Clearly Interpol believes recent events undermine that assurance.
Stock said: “In the light of the current context surrounding FIFA, while Interpol is still committed to developing our integrity in sport programme, I have decided to suspend the agreement.
“All external partners, whether public or private, must share the fundamental values and principles of the organisation, as well as those of the wider law enforcement community.”
A statement from Interpol added: “The integrity in sport programme has helped international efforts across its 190 member countries to prevent the manipulation of sporting events and illegal gambling by criminal groups. Their ongoing criminal activities require a global response.”
It added, perhaps ominously: “Interpol continues to closely monitor developments involving FIFA.”
Interpol’s decision came as a shock to FIFA as expressed in its own statement.
FIFA said: “We are disappointed to learn of the decision . . . The success and importance of this programme cannot be understated. Our cooperation over the past four years has been a key part of addressing the transnational problem of match fixing.
“This successful programme is unrelated to the current issues surrounding FIFA and we believe that this unilateral decision will negatively impact the fight against criminal activity, a goal of which no supporter of the sport can be in favour.
“FIFA remains committed to this important and successful collaboration and will work for its resumption at the earliest opportunity. We are currently reaching out to INTERPOL to further discuss this matter.
Interpol describes itself as “the world’s largest international police organization, with 190 member countries. Our role is to enable police around the world to work together to make the world a safer place. Our high-tech infrastructure of technical and operational support helps meet the growing challenges of fighting crime in the 21st century.”
Michael Garcia, who quit as independent ethics investigator/prosecutor last year in frustration over FIFA’s treatment of his report into the 2018-2022 World Cup bid scandal, had been Interpol’s vice-president for the Americas before taking up his football role in 2012.