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Wed 15 Oct 2014 11:28 AM

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FIFA ethics boss calls for "change of culture"

Comments by Michael Garcia are being perceived as a coded attack on president Sepp Blatter

FIFA ethics boss calls for "change of culture"

Michael Garcia, the chairman of the inquiry into the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments, has called for a "change of culture" at football world governing body FIFA.

In what is being perceived as a coded attack on president Sepp Blatter, Garcia reiterated the need for "greater transparency".

He added that the organisation needed a "leadership that sends a message that the rules apply to everyone", in what could be a hint that corruption had taken place during the most recent World Cup bidding processes, won by Russia and Qatar, respectively.

"The investigation and adjudication process operates in most parts unseen and unheard," he said, giving the keynote speech at an event organised by the American Bar Association in London.

The American lawyer is the chief independent ethics investigator for FIFA and concluded his investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes in September. Qatar has repeatedly denied allegations it paid-off FIFA executives to win votes.

Garcia’s calls for the report to be made public have been backed by some FIFA executives but Blatter has refused, based on past precedents.

According to the BBC, Garcia said the current investigation process was inappropriate for a public sporting body.

"That's a kind of system which might be appropriate for an intelligence agency but not for an ethics compliance process in an international sports institution that serves the public and is the subject of intense public scrutiny," he said.

"The natural next step of the development of an effective ethics process at FIFA is greater transparency.

"The second element that is vital to fulfilling the promise of this reform process is tone at the top.

"More simply put, the second element an institution like FIFA needs in order to meet the challenge of ethics enforcement is leadership. An ethics committee - even a serious, independent ethics committee backed by a strong code of ethics - is not a silver bullet.

"What is required is leadership that sends a message that the rules apply to everyone; leadership that wants to understand and learn from any mistakes or miss-steps the ethics committee may have identified; leadership that makes it clear to everyone - this is what we've set up the ethics committee to do, this is why they do it, and this is what they've done.

"It's that kind of leadership that breathes the life into a code of ethics. Because true reform doesn't come from rules or creating new committee structures. It comes from changing the culture of the organisation."

Garcia said other sports organisations already had demonstrated the value of transparency, the BBC said.

He highlighted the publication of a report into allegations concerning the 2002 Winter Olympics being awarded to Salt Lake City, which allowed the International Olympic Committee to "move forward”.

And a recent incident within the NFL where a lack of transparency concerning Ray Rice led to questions about the integrity of its leadership and ultimately saw the organisation bring in outside counsel to investigate, promising to make that report public.

"That in turn would help foster a culture of compliance internally and would promote more confidence in the system from the public, its partners and the millions of fans who follow and love the game," Garcia said.

He added the aim of transparency was not "to embarrass certain individuals" or "harm the organisation", but to improve it and foster confidence in it.

"It's one thing to tell people that a rigorous process is in place. It's another thing to show them how that process works and what it has uncovered," he explained.

"FIFA built the system that should inspire confidence that things have changed for the better. Showing that to the public serves FIFA's best interest."

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Neil 5 years ago

Nothing he says should worry anyone who has nothing to hide...or lose...

Paul 5 years ago

FIFA and the countries involved in this bid (2022) are:
governed by Autocracy systems where a supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of coup d'état or mass insurrection).