So that came out of left field. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will become FIFA’s ethics and corruption czar. As most readers will likely know, Moreno-Ocampo’s tenure at the ICC is coming to a close. In mid-June he is due to leave the Court after nine years as Prosecutor. His position at FIFA brings to an end speculations of where Moreno-Ocampo would go after a controversial but in many ways remarkable tenure at the ICC. Interestingly, Moreno-Ocampo does have a historical link to soccer/football, having been former superstar Diego Maradona’s lawyer.
Here’s from the BBC:
The Argentine is expected to be confirmed next month, and will investigate allegations of corruption or ethics rules breaches.
Ocampo’s chamber will bring charges, while a separate arm will judge cases.
In March, football’s governing body announced a wide-ranging overhaul of its governance, in light of a series of corruption allegations that have rocked the organisation over the last 18 months, concerning bothWorld Cup bidding and the presidential election.
Fifa’s single-chamber ethics committee failed to gather enough evidence to prosecute allegations of vote-rigging during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.
A report by Fifa’s anti-corruption adviser, Swiss professor Mark Pieth, called Fifa’s past investigation of corruption allegations “unsatisfactory”, with sanctions imposed both “insufficient and clearly unconvincing.”
A double ethics chamber, with one arm overseen by Ocampo, is an attempt to improve the efficiency and reputation of Fifa in this area.
David Bond adds that ”[c]rucially, this body would have the powers to delve into the past – reopening the prospect of another more thorough examination of claims of wrongdoing during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.”
Of course, this also means he will not return to his former job in what amounted to being the Judge Judy of Argentina!
Joking aside, this should be an interesting shift of gears for Moreno-Ocampo, from pursuing international criminals to, well, pursuing international criminals – of a different kind. In recent years, FIFA has been rocked by corruption scandals. Allegations of bribery, kick-backs and other shadowy dealings by FIFA executives, including President Sepp Blatter, have been widely published in the media. As a result, the sporting body’s reputation has suffered badly.
Moreno-Ocampo will undoubtedly bring more attention to an already major international sporting issue – perhaps the biggest sporting scandal since the Salt Lake City bid scandal. He certainly isn’t one to be hesitant about stepping on toes. This has, at times, infuriated observers and advocates for the ICC but it may just be exactly what the doctor ordered and a very good thing if FIFA is ever to rebuild its reputation and regain the trust of fans.
For FIFA, the perception created by appointing Moreno-Ocampo is telling: that the same man who pursues individuals who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, is now honing in on the murky practices of FIFA is, in and of itself, a condemnation of the association and its behaviour.
Of course, there is always the possibility that the appointment of Moreno-Ocampo will amount to little more than FIFA playing lip service to demands for accountability and reform within the association. Bonds suggested that a “truly independent” investigator would be a potential “ticking timebomb” for FIFA and, after all, there remain powerful and vested interests in maintaining the privileged and lucrative status quo in the association.
This much, however, is certain: this will be a show not to be missed. Fireworks are guaranteed. But whether it ends in disaster or relief, only time will tell.