FIFA open to help fund anti-corruption agency for sports

Creating a body like the WADA to address financial corruption and match-fixing has been talked about for more than a decade without a detailed proposal.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Ghada Waly, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), sign a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly tackle corruption and crime in football at the UNODC headquarters in Vienna, Austria on Monday.   -  REUTERS

FIFA would help fund a global agency to tackle corruption in sport, its president Gianni Infantino said on Monday.

Creating a body like the World Anti-Doping Agency to address financial corruption, match-fixing and the influence of organised crime in sport has been talked about for more than a decade without a detailed proposal.

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"We at FIFA are ready to invest in it,” Infantino said, suggesting “maybe the creation of such an agency would help make sport safe in the decades to come.”

As Infantino spoke at a United Nations event in Austria, the corruption trial was opening in Switzerland of three men, including Qatari soccer and television executive Nasser al-Khelaifi and former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Their case arose from years-long American and Swiss investigations of suspected corruption in soccer that removed a generation of international leaders from office and helped lift Infantino to the FIFA presidency in 2016.

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Speakers at the event included diplomats from Russia and Qatar, winners of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting votes in 2010 that FIFA later asked Swiss federal prosecutors to investigate.

No convictions have been secured in Switzerland, though criminal proceedings are also open against Infantino’s predecessor Sepp Blatter and former UEFA President Michel Platini for alleged mismanagement of FIFA funds not directly linked to World Cup bidding. They were questioned in the past two weeks.

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"Never again. Never again corruption in football,” said Infantino, who is himself under investigation in Switzerland over meetings he had with then-attorney general Michael Lauber.

Lauber left office two weeks ago after being disciplined for failing to declare a June 2017 meeting with Infantino where he took no notes and misleading a subsequent internal investigation.

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