The Gag Order on FIFA's Ethics Committee Could Lift in Five Days

  • Current rules keep FIFA's internal investigations a secret
  • Top soccer officials may face charges in the US, Switzerland

The current crisis at FIFA could wind up lifting the shroud of secrecy around the internal workings of global soccer as early as next week.

The 25-member executive committee will vote next Thursday on a rule change that would allow its ethics arm to make details of its investigations public, according to an agenda for the Oct. 20 meeting.

Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, the now-suspended president of soccer’s governing body, had delayed the original vote on the motion from the ethics committee, pushing it to a meeting scheduled for December.

The current rules prevented the ethics committee from acknowledging what was widely suspected: an ongoing internal investigation into Blatter and European head Michel Platini. Days after Swiss prosecutors alleged that Blatter authorized “a disloyal” payment 2 million Swiss franc ($2.1 million) payment to Platini, FIFA’s ethics committee announced it suspended both men for 90 days, the first official admission of any internal investigation.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

“Where there has been public misinformation, the ethics committee must have the right to offer a rectification,” Hans-Joachim Eckert, the German judge who is the head of the adjudicatory arm, said in a statement. 

Criminal proceedings in Switzerland and Europe "would provide greater transparency," noted FIFA’s lead investigator Cornel Borbely.

FIFA runs the World Cup, which generates some $5 billion in revenue, and if the ethics committee is allowed to make more of its internal investigations public, it could let loose a torrent of new information about corruption in the organization.

In May, U.S. prosecutors accused senior FIFA officials of “rampant” corruption; the Swiss investigation followed in September. In recent weeks the ethics committee has announced sanctions on or suspensions of other top officials, including the former secretary general Jerome Valcke and Chung Mong-Joon, a Korean billionaire who was mounting a challenge for to lead the organization.

Next week’s meeting will be the first to be led by acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou, who leads African soccer.

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