Following the conclusion of the 63rd FIFA Congress in Mauritius, international media had an opportunity to speak to four senior figures involved in the FIFA reform process.
Those four figures were Professor Mark Pieth, Chairman of the Independent Governance Committee (IGC); Domenico Scala, Chairman of the Audit & Compliance Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee and Michael Garcia, Chairman of the Investigative Chamber of the Ethics Committee.
Pieth, whose IGC have been an integral part of the FIFA reform process from the outset, provided his frank evaluation of how far, or not, he felt FIFA has come. "As we sit here today, there have been some very clear achievements," said Pieth. "There are still some challenges ahead but this is a process of self-regulation, and it takes time.
"In a relatively short space of time, it's quite spectacular so far what has been achieved. Now we have credible, independent judiciary, and this is the first essential step: to have an investigator and a judge, along with their chambers.
"They (Garcia and Eckert) have both hit the ground running and it's tremendous how they've thrown themselves into their work. The work of Mr Scala and his Audit and Compliance Committee is also another essential step."
Pieth explained that in his view, the media focus on the age limits and terms of office had been "personally hyped up. I've said already that to change any association, it takes time; it's a process. But the key is that the organisation must understand this too. We need to see implementation, and adaptation."
Roles and responsibilities of the Ethics Committee
As the Chairman of the Ethics Committee's Investigative Chamber, Michael Garcia clarified his roles and responsibilities. "My role is to collect facts and proof, and then once that process is complete, to refer my report to Mr Eckert" he explained.
"There are still some challenges ahead but this is a process of self-regulation, and it takes time. In a relatively short space of time, it's quite spectacular so far what has been achieved."
Asked about constant media speculation about the bidding process for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™, Garcia said. "I've gone on the record before to say that I was referred a story by a London (news)paper. I will be looking at some of the processes, but if there is any information out there, now is the time to give it to me.
"In the course of any investigation, I am bound by confidentiality. I clearly cannot divulge information from an ongoing proceeding, as I also want to protect anyone who would wish to come to me in good faith."
Cooperation from FIFA
All Chairmen were asked about the cooperation they had received from FIFA, and whether they had been obstructed in their duties to date. "A year ago I met Julio Grondona (Chairman of FIFA's Finance Committee) in the office of Mr Kattner (FIFA's Director of Finance). The cooperation has been very good and he has been astonishingly open with me" said Scala.
Outlining the ethical guidelines demanded by the Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert was abundantly clear: "FIFA staff have the obligation to cooperate with the investigatory bodies and there are penalties for anyone who doesn't comply with our request to speak to them, or provide documents we require."
While the conclusion of the 63rd Congress sees the 'end' of the last two years of the FIFA reform process, the final word goes to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter: "I am very happy that we came to some major decisions today. We needed to show the world that we meant business when we said we were working hard to reform the way the game is governed.
“Will this positively change the public perception of FIFA. Maybe. I would hope so, but I really don’t know. However, it is the wrong question. The question is: Do WE want to change? There is only one answer: Yes! Because we need to.
"Because football needs this. Because it’s time. We will let others judge us, as we aim to turn words, into action. Our ambition must be to protect this game and develop it in the best way we can, for the current generation, but for all those who will be involved in this amazing game for generations to come."