Fifa President Sepp Blatter says he will present a “very special” new zero-tolerance anti-corruption project at a congress on June 1, where he stands for re-election.
The Swiss is running for his fourth term at the Zurich-based world football body, but is facing a challenge from Qatar’s Mohamed bin Hammam, head of the Asian Football Confederation.
"I will present something very special there but I will not now disclose what is the content," Blatter told reporters in Geneva on Monday. "It's to fight corruption, all cheating and discrimination.”
"We also want to appeal to players, coaches, referees to behave on the field of play," he said, adding that illegal betting and match-fixing would be addressed.
The news comes after corruption charges overshadowed bidding contests for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups at the end of last year. Fifa’s ethics panel barred two executive committee members from voting and suspended four other senior officials.
Jens Sejer Andersen, director of the independent sports watchdog, Play the Game, described the Fifa president’s declaration as “typical Blatter”.
“We can’t completely dismiss it, as miracles can happen, but he did something similar ahead of the congress in 2006 when there was a lot of talk about corruption, announcing Sebastian Coe as the chairman of a new independent Fifa ethics committee. It was a genuine PR stunt,” Andersen told swissinfo.ch.
Cancer in sport
Match-fixing is a major concern in the sporting world. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) calls it a “cancer” that is the biggest threat to world sport and estimates that around $140 billion (SFr128 billion) of the annual $350 billion turnover in the gambling industry is achieved through illegal bets.
The IOC has set up a task force to examine the matter.
Among ongoing football match-fixing scandals, six men are on trial in Bochum, Germany accused of manipulating numerous matches across Europe in 2009, including 13 in Switzerland, as well as a 2010 World Cup qualifier between Liechtenstein and Finland.
Fifa held a betting and match-fixing seminar in Zurich last Friday that discussed an early warning system for spotting possible corrupt matches.
Fifa and Uefa, European football’s governing body, are considering restricting in-game betting because they fear spot-fixing scams, where a part of the game is fixed, are too easy to organise. Nyon-based Uefa has also announced the establishment of “integrity officers” in all 53 national associations to tackle match fixing.
“Football can do a lot but we need the support of the authorities, police and investigators,” said Blatter on Monday. “If people believe matches are arranged they won’t go to games. Zero tolerance is not just about so-called internal corruption; there are devils in all areas of our game.”
Sports journalist Declan Hill, author of The Fix, which is about football and organised crime, has, however, dismissed Fifa’s recent initiatives as “totally useless”.
“No matter what sports executives say in solemn tones at these types of seminars, until there is an international agency to fight sports corruption, these events will be for show only,” he wrote on his blog.
Last November Uefa President Michel Platini called for the setting up of an international sport police force to battle corruption and match-fixing in football. But Fifa and the IOC are against the idea of a world anti-corruption agency similar to the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).
“The IOC’s taskforce is a positive move as it recognises there is a problem which needs government assistance, but it’s far from enough,” said Andersen. “The IOC wants to keep the process under strict control and not let anyone open up the potential can of worms if they look at corruption inside the federations.”
Swiss Federal Sports Office officials are presently re-examining the issue of corruption in sport and checking the existing legal framework in Switzerland, which is host to about 40 international sports federations. Fifa is said to be lobbying parliamentarians to limit any damage.
Blatter admitted that the Zurich authorities had urged Fifa to be more transparent after the World Cup corruption allegations last year.
But he said he had rejected their demands for Fifa’s judicial committee members to be nominated by people from outside football's governing body.
The Swiss parliament and cantons would also not accept having outside bodies choose their legal officials, he commented.
Blatter v Bin Hamman
The head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Mohamed Bin Hammam, will stand against Sepp Blatter for president of football’s world governing body.
The 61-year-old from Qatar says Fifa has become too bureaucratic and centralised and has questioned its efficiency in technical and legal areas. He has promised greater transparency.
Blatter, 75, who has been running Fifa since 1998, says his next term will be his last. He says football’s main challenges in the coming years will be to preserve the identity of the clubs and to fight against illegal betting and doping.
The winner, announced at an election on June 1 held in Zurich, Switzerland, needs a two-thirds majority of valid votes cast in the first ballot, or a majority in the second. Fifa has set an April 1 deadline for other candidates to be nominated by a single member federation.End of insertion
2014 World Cup and goal-line technology
Blatter told reporters in Geneva on Monday that Brazil needed to speed up its preparations to host the 2014 World Cup.
The Fifa president said Brazil's project was "not progressing very quickly," and lagged behind even where South Africa stood when the successful 2010 host fell behind with its construction schedule.
The World Cup stadiums are said to be still in the process of being discussed between the city mayors and the state governors.
Blatter also told reporters goal-line technology could be used at the 2014 World Cup if the International Football Association Board validates the idea in spring 2012. Second and third division English teams and possibly French sides are prepared to test the technology, he said.End of insertion
In compliance with the JTI standards