FIFA ethics committee unlikely to stop at Blatter, Platini

Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:58pm EST
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Largely anonymous, lacking police powers and with its independence sometimes questioned, FIFA's ethics committee has often struggled to be taken seriously in the fight against corruption in soccer's world body.

While U.S. and Swiss authorities have grabbed the headlines with dawn raids on a luxury Zurich hotel and the indictment of 27 soccer officials, FIFA's own watchdog has had to fend off criticism that it is a weak lame duck.

But, over the last year, the committee has flashed its teeth, culminating in Monday's decision to hand eight-year bans to both FIFA President Sepp Blatter and European (UEFA) soccer chief Michel Platini.

Sources close to world soccer's ethics panel have told Reuters that there are many more cases in the pipeline.

Blatter and Platini were the biggest scalps so far for the watchdog that has also imposed life bans to a number of former FIFA executive committee members including Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, Jack Warner from Trinidad and Tobago and Chuck Blazer from the United States for corruption.

Some of those under investigation have already been named and include former West German captain Franz Beckenbauer, regarded as one of the greatest players to have graced the game. Beckenbauer has denied wrongdoing.

FIFA was thrown into turmoil when U.S. authorities announced the indictment of 14 people on May 27, seven of whom were arrested at their Zurich hotel, two days before the annual FIFA Congress.

But the crisis had been brewing for several years before then and, since 2012, FIFA's ethics committee has been enjoying more power and independence in attempts to weed out corruption.   Continued...

UEFA President Michel Platini (R) congratulates FIFA President Sepp Blatter after he was re-elected at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, May 29, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann