For the first time since the formal suspension of two of its highest-ranking members, FIFA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) will meet in Zurich on Tuesday. According to PA Sport, the hastily organized “emergency meeting” will cover a number of items, including possibly postponing FIFA’s Feb. 26 presidential election.
With current president Sepp Blatter and former candidate and frontrunner Michel Platini both suspended from the organization, and Chung Moon-joon, another candidate, recently banned from the game for six years, soccer’s governing body is in meltdown mode, and possibly, unable to govern itself.
By the time of the election, both Blatter and Platini, the respective faces of FIFA and UEFA for the last decade, will have only just returned from their suspensions; of course, it’s possible they might not return at all -- as the pair is being investigated for a $2.1 million payment that both men admit had no contract attached to it.
On the one hand, you can understand FIFA’s ExCo deciding it needs to postpone the election until after the fates of Blatter and Platini are clear. That probably seems reasonable, because if Blatter and Platini are cleared, then both men should be given time to play a part in the election process -- obviously, Platini cannot campaign effectively while he is under investigation for corruption.
But let’s hope it doesn’t take FIFA’s ethics committee long (read: 90 days) to investigate this incident thoroughly. It should not take three months to interrogate two men about a “gentleman’s agreement” with no contract.
But then again, at this point, FIFA’s ethics committee shouldn’t even be handling this: the fact that both men admit there was no contract and it took FIFA some nine years to pay Platini for being Blatter’s adviser or whatever should be sufficient cause for Swiss authorities to get involved -- because even if Swiss law protects word-of-mouth contracts, as Platini alleges, its statute of limitations for paying out services rendered is just five years, which would make the payment illegal.
As an important matter that directly affects one of the world’s largest sports organizations, real authorities need to get involved here: search warrants are required, hard drives need to be seized, and bank statements need to be poured over.
Of course, if any of that happens, the floodgates could open, and FIFA as we know it could be brought to its knees.