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Opinions of Thursday, 9 December 2010

Columnist: Daily Post

Even FIFA being Investigated

While some football connoisseurs are claiming that the decision by the Economic & Organised Crime Office, EOCO, to investigate the Ghana Football Association amounts to interference, the Daily Post can report that FIFA itself is under investigations from Swiss Authorities.

“So, if FIFA itself is being investigated by the Swiss government which hosts FIFA’s headquarters, why can’t one of FIFA’s affiliate bodies also be investigated by the authorities of the country whom it represents?” Daily Post’s source at the Ghana Football Association asked rhetorically.

A news item published in the SPORTS CITY, an European online newspaper on November 11, 2010, clearly establishes that even FIFA, the world football controlling is being investigated. Below is the news item;

Swiss authorities investigate FIFA


FIFA is under investigation from the Swiss federal authorities over the cash-for-World-Cup-votes scandal, with the inquiry possibly leading to criminal charges.

Six senior FIFA officials, including an executive-committee member and vice-president, were earlier this month suspended from all football activities for a total of 16 years after they were found guilty of corruption offences under the FIFA code of ethics.

Now, Director of Switzerland's Federal Office for Sport, Matthias Remund, wants to ensure that no Swiss laws have been broken, reports The Guardian.

Remund said the case would be analysed to determine "to what extent we have applicable law in Switzerland, in order to be able to pursue offences which are relevant from a criminal justice point of view or which offend competition law".

The case is complicated since under Swiss law, not-for-profit bodies cannot be pursued through anti-corruption laws, which apply only to commercial organisations.

Remund explained: "Private corruption in that [legal] sense does not exist in Switzerland. And in particular sporting associations and clubs without economic/commercial purpose are excluded from that purpose."

Whether or not the Swiss authorities pursue a criminal case, FIFA 's exemption from anti-corruption legislation appears short-lived, adds the newspaper.

Switzerland's sports minister, Uli Maurer, believes that in light of the most recent corruption case at FIFA House, it is time to tighten that loophole and end its immunity from prosecution.

He added: "It's clear that Switzerland is obliged to do something to fight corruption as we have lots of international federations with headquarters in Switzerland and we want to set an example in solving this problem."

In parallel with the investigation of the specific FIFA case, Maurer has tasked Remund's office with conducting a review of the anti-corruption laws to analyse whether these should also apply to sports organisations.

Another news item by the same online newspaper yesterday, December 8, 2010, explains further the fact that FIFA is being investigated. Read story below;

Corruption allegations worry Switzerland


Switzerland’s sports minister has admitted that the country is concerned about the number of sports federations based there which have been accused of corruption.

Ueli Maurer has ordered the Swiss Sports Agency, an agency of the Federal Government, to set up an investigation into "corruption in sport" and how it can be confronted and eliminated.

FIFA football's world governing body which is based in Zurich, has been at the centre of allegations for several weeks after two members of its executive committee were suspended following an undercover investigation by the Sunday Times newspaper.

"It's clear that Switzerland is obliged to do something to fight corruption as we have lots of international federations with headquarters in Switzerland and we want to set an example in solving this problem," Maurer said.

"But resolving this issue won't be easy, as we have the federations with their rules, national and international laws and global problems."

Almost 50 leading sports organisations are based in Switzerland, including the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne and UEFA, European football's governing body, in Nyon.

Such bodies are granted tax breaks and flexible legal terms that allow them to govern their own affairs.

"Recent developments mean we need swift action because Switzerland must become a model in fighting corruption in sport," Maurer added.

The GFA, if it has nothing to hide, should not fear investigations into its affairs whether the investigative body is the police, military intelligence or the EOCO.