Council of Europe watchdog calls for investigation into FIFA President Blatter's re-election

Thursday, 08 March 2012
By Andrew Warshaw

sepp blatter_08-03-12March 8 - A key Council of Europe watchdog has questioned FIFA President Sepp Blatter's (pictured) election victory last year and says more assurances need to be given that it was clean.

Blatter was elected unopposed after his sole rival, Mohamed Bin Hammam, dropped out of the race over bribery allegations which brought him a life ban.

Bin Hammam was banned after being found guilty of offering cash gifts of $40,000 (£25,000/€30,000) each to 25 officials from the Caribbean at a meeting in Trinidad and Tobago three weeks before the FIFA election.

But the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, approving a report from French politician academic François Rochebloine, has passed a draft resolution on "good governance and ethics in sport" suggesting Blatter's election should be subject to an internal investigation into whether he influenced the result.

The Assembly urges FIFA to "open an internal investigation in order to determine whether, and to what extent, during the latest campaign for the office of President, the candidates, and particularly the successful candidate, exploited their institutional positions to obtain unfair advantages for themselves or for potential voters".

Before Blatter was elected, English Football Association chairman David Bernstein appealed unsuccessfully for the election to be postponed, and the committee of the Council of Europe – the watchdog body which oversees the European Court of Human Rights – says the entire process should now be further scrutinised.

The resolution also calls on FIFA to "cast full light on the facts underlying the various scandals which, in recent years, have tarnished its image and that of international football".

There was also a recommendation that the "investigative powers of the [FIFA] Ethics Committee ... should be significantly increased".

Ricardo Teixeira_08-03-12
The widely ranging resolution, covering several ways in which the governance of sport could be improved, also targeted the infamous ISL documents in which prominent FIFA powerbrokers, such as Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and Brazil 2014 boss Ricardo Teixeira (pictured), are alleged to have taken kickbacks in the 1990s.

FIFA have so far been blocked from publicising the confidential documents relating to deals with its former marketing partner even though Blatter has promised to do exactly this under his two-year reform plan to bring back transparency.

The report urges FIFA to "publish in full any judicial and other documents relating to the case of Swiss sports promoter ISL whose collapse in 2001 gave rise to allegations of kickbacks to FIFA officials in return for television rights".

Blatter, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee, is serving a fourth and final term and the committee report recommends that Presidential terms of office for all sporting organisations should be limited in future.

It points out that as well as football, the international federations such as athletics, tennis, gymnastics, handball and skiing – among others – all have Presidents who were elected during the 1990s.

Bin Hammam, whose appeal hearing against his life ban is set for next month, was one of those who believed strongly that Blatter serving four terms as FIFA boss was too many for one person.

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Related stories
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February 2012: Lennart Johansson calls for FIFA President Sepp Blatter to step down
January 2012: Former UEFA chief Johansson calls for investigation into Blatter corruption allegations
December 2011: British MP demands investigation into FIFA chief Sepp Blatter
December 2011: FIFA ordered to release ISL papers 
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