Bloomberg News

FIFA Inspires Swiss Corruption Law Changes After Bribery Scandal

January 19, 2012

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- FIFA, soccer’s governing body, is inspiring new anti-corruption laws that its home country Switzerland could implement following several bribery scandals and graft accusations at the association.

Carlo Sommaruga, a Geneva-based lawmaker and member of the Swiss Socialist Party, scheduled a proposal to make the bribery of individuals a criminal offense, he said today in a telephone interview from Geneva.

FIFA, which moved to Zurich in 1932, has appointed a governance committee to advise the association on how to reorganize and implement anti-corruption controls. The organization suffered as several executives were found guilty or were accused of wrongdoing during the selection process for the World Cup and FIFA’s presidency.

“I took FIFA as an example for my initiative to change the corruption laws after the corruption allegations centered around awarding the World Cup to Russia and Qatar,” Sommaruga said. Russia won the hosting rights for 2018, defeating campaigns from England, and joint efforts from Spain and Portugal as well as the Netherlands and Belgium. Qatar clinched the 2022 World Cup as Australia, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. were disappointed.

In a Dec. 12 session 14 of 25 members of the Swiss legislative commission that votes on law questions supported the Sommaruga’s initiative. To move the proposal forward, the same commission in the upper house of parliament will have to vote on whether the action is needed.

No Provisions

Currently there are no legal provisions for public prosecutors to investigate bribery at sports bodies like FIFA, which in Switzerland have the status of tax-privileged associations.

The Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption, called Greco, published a report on Dec. 2 advising Switzerland to boost the effectiveness of its criminal law concerning bribery of foreign public and private-sector officials to adopt legislation on political funding.

“I would not only welcome this initiative, I also support it fully,” FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, 75, was quoted as saying in an interview with Zurich-based newspaper Tages- Anzeiger today. Blatter was backed on June 1 for a fourth term by 92 percent of FIFA delegates in a vote overshadowed by the suspension of his opponent for alleged bribery.

--Editors: Christopher Elser, Paul Verschuur

To contact the reporter on this story: Carolyn Bandel in Zurich at cbandel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net


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