FIFA President Sepp Blatter pledged to make available all the resources its new investigators need to probe wrongdoing at soccer’s governing body.
Blatter, in the U.K. for the Olympic soccer tournament beginning today, has fronted a reform program at FIFA after its image received a battering. Corruption allegations surrounded the bidding to stage the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and there was controversy over Blatter’s re-election last year. His sole challenger, Mohamed Bin Hammam, withdrew a day before a vote-buying inquiry.
On July 17, FIFA named former U.S. attorney Michael J. Garcia as head investigator for its ethics committee and German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert to lead the adjudicatory branch in an overhaul of the way it investigates and prosecutes wrongdoing. Bin Hammam’s life ban from soccer was overturned by sport’s top court on July 19. It ruled that a FIFA-ordered inquiry by former FBI head Louis Freeh failed to find enough evidence that the ex-head of Asian soccer was the source of envelopes stuffed with $40,000 and handed to Caribbean officials.
“We have to put all resources at their disposal so they can do their job,” Blatter said in an interview. “Naturally there’s a budget there, otherwise you cannot do the job. It’s not just to phone somebody, you have to work on that, you know how investigations are made.”
Blatter declined to comment on the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to overturn Bin Hammam’s ban. He also refused to speak about whether Garcia would open a case into Blatter’s 2011 election win, which secured a fourth four-year term.
“Let them work now, give them the benefit now,” Blatter said. “I don’t know them. I have just met them once.”
Bin Hammam is serving a separate 30-day ban handed to him by Asia’s soccer body and extended worldwide by FIFA after a forensic audit by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP found financial irregularities in the Asian Football Confederation’s accounts.