March 15, 2017 / 12:28 PM / 4 months ago

FIFA ethics chiefs facing uncertain future

UEFA President Michel Platini (L) congratulates FIFA President Sepp Blatter after he was re-elected at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, May 29, 2015.Ruben Sprich/Files

ZURICH (Reuters) - The two FIFA ethics chiefs responsible for banning some of the sport's most prominent figures following a corruption scandal face an uncertain future and may not have their mandates renewed, sources with knowledge of the matter have told Reuters.

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, his right-hand man Jerome Valcke and former European soccer boss Michel Platini are among dozens who have been banned by the ethics committee in the last four years.

The scandal has also led to the indictment of several dozen soccer officials, mainly from Central and South America, in the United States. Blatter, Valcke and Platini, who have denied any wrongdoing, were not among them.

The sources said that a change of personnel could lead to a two-year delay in ongoing investigations as the new incumbents would have to familiarise themselves with both the ethics committee set up and the cases themselves.

The mandates of Cornel Borbely, a Swiss attorney who heads the investigatory division of the ethics committee, and Hans-Joachim Eckert, a German judge who heads the adjudicatory chamber, expire in May.

The sources told Reuters that neither have so far been invited to the next FIFA Congress on May 11 in Bahrain, where their mandates would be extended for another four years.

According to the FIFA statutes, the 37-member FIFA Council has responsibility for proposing candidates for the two roles and the final decision is made at the Congress by representatives of the 211 national federations.

Consultation Process

FIFA would not comment directly on whether Borbely and Eckert would be nominated for reappointment, saying in a statement that the continental confederations had been asked to put forward names.

"In line with our good governance processes, a consultation process has started and the confederations have been asked to provide candidates," it said.

"Please understand that we can’t speculate about any matters that are subject to the decision of the Congress’ delegates. We have no further comments."

Sources said that both Borbely and Eckert wanted to continue. Under FIFA statutes, they are each entitled to two further four-year mandates.

The sources said that FIFA president Gianni Infantino could easily end speculation about their future with a statement of support and an invitation to Congress but this had not been forthcoming.

FIFA reformed the ethics committee in 2012 in response to a series of corruption cases.

Eckert has headed the adjudicatory chamber since then while Borbely has led the investigatory chamber since 2014 after the resignation of the original head Michael Garcia.

Infantino has already overseen a drastic restructuring of FIFA since he was elected in February last year and several key heads of department have left, in some cases abruptly.

Last year, the committee investigated Infantino's own conduct, focusing on some of the flights he had taken during the opening months of his presidency and his failure to sign an employment contract. It found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Last May, the FIFA Congress gave the FIFA Council power to appoint or dismiss members of independent bodies such as the ethics committee and the audit and compliance committee.

Domenico Scala resigned as head of the latter in protest, saying FIFA had taken away the independence of its watchdogs.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Gareth Jones

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