Fifa corruption scandal

Fifa must root out all high level corruption for the good of world soccer

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 12:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 12:29am

Hopes that the corruption scandal convulsing world soccer's governing body Fifa could be contained before it spun further out of control rose with the ouster of its controversial chief Sepp Blatter, seemingly clearing the way for a new regime to restore credibility.

The Fifa ethics committee has severely dented them by imposing a 90-day suspension not only on Blatter but also on the man favoured to succeed him in an election in February, European soccer chief Michel Platini, and Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Another candidate to replace Blatter, Chung Mong-joon, a South Korean tycoon, has been suspended for six years.

Platini's suspension comes after Swiss authorities opened criminal proceedings against Blatter over a payment of about US$2 million to the Frenchman in 2011, which both men say related to a verbal promise for work he did for Fifa in 1998-2002.

Sources close to the matter say there was no written contract.

The suspensions indicate a rigorous probe in which no one is above the law, and an effort to ensure that those involved cannot interfere with the investigation. Shocking as they are, there is no other way forward for the world game.

Unless his suspension is overturned on appeal, it is unlikely Platini could continue with his candidacy for president, given that he would have to pass an integrity process. That said, it is equally important that fundamental rights, especially the presumption of innocence, are respected.

Platini is not without support, including a denunciation of the suspension by Conmebol, the South American soccer confederation.

This may reflect a conflict of perceptions of wrongdoing, given that four Conmebol officials are among nine high-ranking Fifa officials indicted on corruption charges by the US Department of Justice.

Ultimately, Fifa is dependent on the support of multinational corporate sponsors. Hopefully, their demand for effective reforms to stamp out rampant bribery at the top will prevail.

After all, unlike other sports tainted by drug cheating, soccer's top players and tournaments remain largely untainted and publicly respected at the international level.