May 29, 2015 / 6:57 AM / 4 years ago

FIFA should be Swiss-regulated, says one-time reformer Pieth

Law and ethics professor Mark Pieth makes a speech during the "Sports, Business and Ethics - a Situation Analysis" congress held by FIFA's subsidiary Early Warning System (EWS) in Zurich April 5, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - A former FIFA reformer told Swiss radio on Friday that soccer’s world governing body should be regulated by Switzerland, after seven senior soccer officials were arrested in Zurich on U.S. corruption charges and now face extradition.

Mark Pieth, a Swiss professor and former head of FIFA’s independent governance committee who recommended a number of reforms for the organization, said events this week beg a change.

“If we see circumstances like those we are currently experiencing with FIFA, then we don’t have much choice other than the government becoming involved,” Pieth said in an interview with Swiss radio DRS.

FIFA is based in a $250 million largely underground hillside headquarters in Zurich, but is largely unregulated by any Swiss body. As non-profit associations, the approximately 60 sporting bodies based in Switzerland, including FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), pay a far lower tax bill than private-sector corporations.

Swiss lawmakers have been hesitant to tighten oversight on organizations like FIFA, which create hundreds of jobs and boost tourism with events like the Ballon d’Or award ceremony.

Pieth told DRS he didn’t envisage a day-to-day monitoring of the kind that Swiss financial regulator FINMA exercises over Swiss banks, but that Switzerland should set up minimum requirements on transparency for organizations such as FIFA.

A spokesman for the Swiss government said regulating sports organizations would require a change in Swiss law.

Reporting by Katharina Bart; editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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