In a statement released on the eve of its annual congress in Manama, Bahrain, FIFA announced that it would put forward replacements to lead its two-chamber ethics committee.
The departing judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert, and the prosecutor, Cornel Borbely, decried the decision, saying that they were eager to continue their work and that removing them during continuing investigations of corruption in world soccer would lead to an “inevitable loss of trust” in FIFA. They referred to the decision to nominate new choices for their posts as a “non-election.”
“The impending and clearly politically motivated non-reappointment puts de facto an end to the reform efforts” inside FIFA and further tarnishes the organization’s battered image, Eckert and Borbely said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Eckert and Borbely criticized the proposed changes to the committee’s leadership, calling them a blow to FIFA’s pledges of reform, which grew out of the arrests in 2015. They also said the move to stop the ethics committee’s work, even temporarily, while new committee heads acquainted themselves with case files would result in long delays and risked “jeopardizing FIFA’s integrity.”
“It appears,” they charged in a thinly veiled accusation directed at FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, who was investigated but not disciplined by the ethics committee last year, “that the heads of FIFA have attached greater weight to their own and political interests than to the long-term interests of FIFA.”
In place of Eckert and Borbely, FIFA’s ruling council has nominated the Greek judge Vassilios Skouris and the Colombian lawyer Maria Claudia Rojas to lead the ethics committee’s two chambers. Skouris is the former head of the European Court of Justice. (Source credit – New York Times)