Swiss take aim at corruption

veröffentlicht am Montag, 15.12.2014

On Friday Swiss lawmakers decided they had had enough of being known as home of the sporting backhander and voted to keep a sharper eye on the bank accounts of organisations run by the likes of Fifa’s Sepp Blatter and IOC President Thomas Bach.

They are, according to a report by the Associated Press, “now classed as ‘politically exposed persons’ in wider legislation covering money-laundering”.

While 128 voted for the law, 62 went against it. We may never know the reasoning behind why those 62 voted nay, as we may never know what was going through the minds of those who voted to give the World Cup to Qatar.

The vote, wrote AP, “was prompted by Fifa bribery scandals in recent years … ‘Normally these rules are for politicians and dictators,’ Swiss lawmaker Roland Buechel told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Buechel said the law also applies to executive committee members and employees of sports federations. There are more than 60 based in Switzerland, taking advantage of traditional tax-exempt status and light competition regulation. The vote was a clear sign Switzerland has tired of its reputation for going easy on the multi-billion dollar sports industry.

During Fifa’s recent attempts to reform, its anti-corruption adviser Mark Pieth challenged his home country to stop being a ‘pirate’s harbour’.”

It’s a small step in the right direction, although Fifa has shown an ability to deflect and cover up when it comes to allegations of corruption in their ranks. The fudging of the report into the allegations of wrongdoing against Qatar was remarkably similar to the parliamentary committee’s smudging of the Nkandla report.

The Swiss, though, have become embarrassed that their country is seen as a playground for those who barter with ethics and votes.

Being on the ground during in Zurich in 2004 for the 2010 World Cup host announcement was to watch South Africans beg for votes. It was unseemly at times, particularly in the way Nelson Mandela was used as a bargaining tool to gain favour with the likes of Jack Warner of Concacaf.

There were celebrations in Zurich on the afternoon South Africa won, and, thankfully, no suggestion of impropriety.

The Swiss acknowledge that their law has limitations as it only “allows greater scrutiny of ‘any strange movement’ in bank accounts and financial assets held in Switzerland only, Buechel said. ‘We can only enforce law in our country,’ he acknowledged. ‘It is still an important step so that other countries can follow’.” Like he said, it is still an important step.

The International Association of Athletics Federations will need to take many careful steps themselves in the coming weeks as they seek to handle what Owen Gibson of The Guardian called “a perfect storm that threatens to bring athletics to its knees” at the weekend.

“The claims can broadly be divided into two overlapping categories. In the first are strong suggestions of institutional doping at the Russian athletics federation that may have been covered up by IAAF officials ... In the second are suggestions that the son of the IAAF president, Lamine Diack – its marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack – requested a $5m payment from the Qataris when they were bidding to host the 2017 world athletics championships. He denies making such a request on behalf of the IAAF and says no payment was ever received. Other strands, including the Guardian’s revelation that long-standing the anti-doping chief Dr Gabriel Dollé left the IAAF after being interviewed by the ethics commission, only add to the intrigue and sense of a governing body spinning out of control.”

Diack has been president of the IAAF since 1999, which is far too long.Presidents should come and go.

Blatter has come and still not gone. Under his watch football has lurched from scandal to scandal. There can be little space under the carpet at Fifa for the dirt that has been swept there.

The Swiss government would like to have a look at the dirt. With their new law they may have just begun a process that could see a change in the biggest of the world’s sporting bodies. Perhaps the truth is not far away.

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