Fifa has “shot itself in the foot”

Blatter is under fire at the head of Fifa

Blatter is under fire at the head of Fifa (Reuters)

The net is closing on football’s world governing body following corruption claims and bans meted out ahead of Wednesday’s presidential election, campaigners say.

The latest fiasco has seen Muhamed bin Hammam suspended and forced to step down as the only challenger to incumbent President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter. The ruling followed claim and counter-claim of corruption during the campaign.

Bin Hammam’s departure paves the way for Blatter to win a fourth consecutive term as Fifa president this week. He has vowed to clean up the game from corruption after being cleared of wrongdoing by an ethics committee panel on Sunday.

Fifa has been mired in corruption allegations for several years, which intensified late in 2010 as the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments were awarded to Russia and Qatar.

The heightened whiff of scandal last year provoked a Swiss parliamentary demand for Sport Minister Ueli Maurer to investigate Fifa, that has been based in Zurich since 1932.

Fifa has until the end of this year to prove to the Swiss parliament that it is cleaning up its act. If it cannot, it faces possible sanctions of having its privileges as a sporting association removed along with generous tax breaks.

Swiss investigation

Maurer’s office is also investigating if changes to the law could bring sporting bodies into line with corporations under Swiss anti-corruption legislation. At present, sporting associations are not subject to such rigorous requirements as companies.

Roland Büchel, one parliamentarian behind demands for Fifa to reform, told that the latest twists to the saga could play into the hands of anti-corruption campaigners.

“I am not unhappy with what I am seeing because it confirms what I have always said: there is corruption in Fifa,” he said. “Fifa has shot itself in the foot.”

“Blatter said last year that Fifa was not corrupt and now he finds himself surrounding by demons.”

Those demons include the latest shenanigans surrounding the presidential election, the banning of two football regional chiefs and four Fifa officials on charges of corruption last year, claims from Britain that votes were paid for in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup process and numerous media attacks on the integrity of Fifa.

But perhaps the biggest genie in the box is a 2008 canton Zug court ruling (and confirmed by prosecutors in 2010) that Fifa officials took kickbacks when awarding rights to now bankrupt sports marketing company ISMM-ISL.

While the offences were not crimes under Swiss law at the time, attempts to find the identity of the parties involved have been blocked by the terms of an out of court settlement reached between Zug prosecutors and Fifa.

“Time bomb”

British investigative reporter Andrew Jennings, who has written a book about Fifa activities, believes it is only a matter of time before higher Swiss courts release the details of the verdict.

“The ticking time bomb is the Zug court verdict. If that gets out then Blatter is finished,” Jennings told

Jennings called on member football associations of Fifa and for politicians to intervene in the ongoing saga.

The accusations and evidence have been made public for a number of years and it is now time for the politicians to act to clean up football,” he told

“Switzerland is going down the right road, but someone has to tell Fifa that if it doesn’t postpone Wednesday’s election they will intervene.”
Direct political intervention would be the tactic of last resort, according to Roland Büchel.

“The Swiss parliament can force a change to Fifa’s tax status or its privileges as a sporting association,” he told “But this would also affect the other 60 sporting federations in Switzerland, so I hope this will not be necessary.”

“Fifa is not an untouchable entity,” he added. “It is comprised of 208 national football associations, and if they want to change things then they can. Sponsors and fans could also raise their voices to make a difference.”

Büchel holds out hope that an ongoing investigation by the International Olympic Committee, that was also implicated in the ISMM_ISL scandal, will also bring more pressure to bear on Fifa.

Matthew Allen,