ZURICH, Switzerland 18th July – FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Tuesday announced that world football’s governing body has adopted a new code of ethics in the wake of a series of damaging corruption scandals.
The announcement comes after a rocky few days for world football’s governing body, with Blatter having to defend his stance on bribery after a Swiss court revealed that his predecessor Joao Havelange had accepted enormous kick-backs.
Havelange, FIFA president for a 24-year spell up to Blatter’s election in 1998, pocketed at least 1.5 million Swiss francs (£986,000, 820,000 euros) from FIFA’s discredited Swiss-based marketing partner ISL, according to court documents.
Blatter has come under heavy fire for his handling of the affair, with the head of the German football federation Wolfgang Niersbach on Saturday declaring himself “shocked” at Blatter’s handling of the scandal.
Blatter has sought to distance himself from the Havelange case, declaring last Thursday that he was powerless to sanction the 96-year-old Brazilian and pointing out that such payments were not illegal under Swiss law at the time.
Responding to calls that he should consider his position, Blatter was defiant.
“It’s not enough that somebody in the press says ‘resign, resign’. If somebody wants that then he has to lodge a demand before (FIFA) Congress. If they don’t want me any longer… I will go quietly but I remind you that I was elected by Congress.”
Earlier Tuesday there were calls from Germany for Blatter to return his Order of Merit, the country’s highest civilian honour which he received in 2006 by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“It’s been proved that Sepp Blatter was part of an endemic system of corruption in FIFA. That’s why we should take back the German Order of Merit,” the German Green Party’s European deputy Reinhard Butikofer told Die Welt.
“I don’t want to discuss this but if they decide to take it back, they will take it back,” Blatter responded when asked about the calls.
FIFA’s move to introduce more transparency into the way it deals with corruption sees US former attorney Michael J. Garcia appointed to lead the investigatory chamber.
Germany’s Hans-Joachim Eckert will head the adjudicatory chamber of the new Ethics Committee.
Garcia previously headed the federal investigation into the disgraced former governor of New York Eliot Spitzer over a high-priced call girl scandal in 2008.