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Soccer’s seven top officials selected a Slovenian to be FIFA’s new audit and compliance chief, an appointment that’s been under scrutiny following the resignation of the former office holder who claimed the role had been diminished.
Tomaz Vesel, the president of Slovenia’s Court of Audit, replaces Domenico Scala after the crisis that engulfed FIFA following a U.S. Department of Justice indictment that accused several senior soccer officials of engaging in corrupt practices dating back more than two decades. Scala, a key participant in FIFA’s reform program, quit in May when FIFA agreed on a statute change that allowed its governing council to hire and fire the independent members of its oversight committees.
"The appointment of Mr. Vesel as independent chairman of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee is an important development in the ongoing effort to strengthen FIFA’s governance and compliance systems," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said. "This is a vital role within the organization and Mr. Vesel’s audit expertise and international experience will help reassure stakeholders and restore trust in FIFA."
Infantino has been under pressure following Scala’s resignation, after the publication of a leaked tape recording of one of his first meetings in the role. On the tape, Infantino discusses steps to remove Scala from his post, and claiming a salary offer made to him by a committee led by Scala was "insulting.”
Infantino has yet to sign a contract even though he’s been in post for more than 100 days. He had been offered about $2 million a year, according to FIFA’s former anti-corruption adviser Mark Pieth.
FIFA remains in a battle to convince U.S. authorities that it was "a victim" in the corruption case, and is competing for restitution from some of the millions that U.S. authorities have clawed back from more than 40 people charged with crimes including racketeering and money laundering. FIFA fired its former acting secretary general in May after claiming it found he’d been receiving millions in secret bonuses. It’s also looking for a new external auditor after KPMG stepped down last month.
"I look forward to working with FIFA to ensure that it operates in accordance with international standards and continues down the path of good governance that has been set forth in the reforms," Vesel said.
Heads of soccer’s six confederations and Infantino picked Vesel following a recommendation from the deputy head of FIFA’s audit and compliance body, South African Sindi Mabaso Koyana. The appointment of a Slovenian comes as the country’s soccer federation head Aleksander Ceferin has positioned himself as a front-runner to be named the new president of European soccer body UEFA. Infantino was UEFA’s general secretary prior to his sudden elevation to the sport’s top job.