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Football governance FIFA removes ethics investigator and judge

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has overseen a restructuring of FIFA since he was elected in February last year

(Keystone)

FIFA’s ruling council has replaced Swiss prosecutor Cornel Borbely, the governing body’s chief ethics investigator, and ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, it was confirmed on Tuesday.

Eckert and Borbely, who banned some of the biggest names in world football, will not have their mandates, which ran until Thursday's FIFA congress, renewed, it was confirmed to Swiss pubic television, SRFexternal link.

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.

The ethics committee pair have overseen the suspension and expulsion of a series of officials including former FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Secretary General Jerome Valcke and former European soccer boss Michel Platini.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Borbely and Eckert described the move as a major step backwards.

"The impending non-election will set the work of the Ethics Committee far back and is de facto the end of FIFA’s reform efforts. It must be assumed that entire FIFA will suffer from this decision in the medium and long term," the statement said.

Speaking further at a news conference in Bahrain on Wednesday morning, Barbely also said they had not been officially informed by FIFA of the end of their mandate and found out only from the media.

"We worked well on a very high level with a huge volume of cases," he said. "There was no need to change the Ethics Committee - the only conclusion can be that this was politically intended."

Restructuring

According to a statement issued by FIFA, Colombian investigator Maria Claudia Rojas has been nominated as the new head of the investigatory chamber with Vassilos Skouris of Greece, a former president of the European Court of Justice, put forward as head of the adjudicatory chamber.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has overseen a restructuring of FIFA since he was elected in February last year and several key heads of department have left.

Last year, the ethics 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.

Colombian investigator Maria Claudia Rojas is the new head of the investigatory chamber with Vassilios Skouris of Greece, a former president of the European Court of Justice, taking over as head of the adjudicatory chamber.

Tuesday’s move follows the resignation of former reform and compliance chief Domenico Scala last year, who argued the independent committees had been undermined by changes made by Infantino. The latter denied this.

Over the past few years, the FIFA leadership has been linked with corruption, bribery and vote rigging, prompting numerous arrests and criminal investigations in Switzerland and the United States. 

In March, Zurich-based FIFA announced that it had completed a 22-month internal inquiry into allegations of high-level corruption and criminal misconduct that buffeted the sport around the world and had handed its report to Swiss authorities.

swissinfo.ch/sb

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