June 14th, 2011
Officials are not permitted to accept gifts and other benefits that exceed the average relative value of local cultural customs from any third parties. If in doubt, gifts shall be declined. Accepting gifts of cash in any amount or form is prohibited—FIFA Code of Ethics rule 10(1).
While performing their duties, officials may give gifts and other benefits in accordance with the average relative value of local cultural customs to third parties, provided no dishonest advantages are gained and there is no conflict of interest.—FIFA Code of ethics rule 10(2)
Officials may not be accompanied to official events by family members or associates at the expense of FIFA, the confederations, associations, leagues and clubs or other organisations, unless expressly permitted to do so.—FIFA Code of ethics rule 10(3)
Officials may not accept bribes; in other words, any gifts or other advantages that are offered, promised or sent to them to incite breach of duty or dishonest conduct for the benefit of a third party shall be refused.—FIFA Code of ethics rule 11(1)
Officials are forbidden from bribing third parties or from urging or inciting others to do so in order to gain advantage for themselves or third parties.—FIFA Code of ethics rule 11(2)
The FIFA code of ethics came into being in 2009 and has cast a long shadow on a culture where cash transactions were the normal course of doing business. What is taking place in the Machiavellian world of FIFA would embarrass Machiavelli himself. Law makers in Switzerland have already accused the football body of embarrassing the country and have told FIFA to clean up its act or run the risk of having its protected tax and anti-corruption status stripped. Inside of FIFA it is still seen as a debate between loyalty and disloyalty.
The twisted logic emanating from the corridors of power in world football is not about duty and responsibility. Neutrals are offended by the entire mess and it is questionable whether anyone outside FIFA believes FIFA anymore. There is no hiding football’s vicissitudes.
Louis Giskus, Suriname football federation president told the international media: “Suriname’s reputation is worth more than 40,000 US” as he admitted to receiving the cash for development purposes and that the money had been deposited in the federation’s local bank account.
There is a steely determination to “hoist FIFA on its own petard.” Should the Swiss change the relevant laws as a means of punishing FIFA for abusing its status, all sport governing bodies domiciled in Switzerland will be negatively impacted including the powerful IOC and UEFA to name but a few. As Mohandas Gandhi said: “Silence of the sewn up lips is no silence” Who do you trust? Who do you seek out when you want the truth? Do you turn to those who will tell you what you want to hear or those who are unafraid to be honest even if it might be unpleasant or difficult?
FIFA does so much good but the organisation is not so big that it is above the law and basic principles of good governance. Fed up Swiss lawmakers have in so many words told FIFA you have special responsibilities; the least of these is to be honest. The forces of change are marching. The warning signs are there. The sheer defensiveness of those under the microscope is an indication that, deep down they know that the hour has come. Accepting that the tide has turned is virgin territory. As the governing body for the world’s most popular and financially rich sport seeks to satisfy the Swiss that it is dealing with perceived corruption, and in doing so strengthening its credibility as a transparent, ethical and accountable body deserving of special status a sacrificial lamb may well have to be found. The sad part is that the real game within FIFA may be to avoid being the lamb.