FIFA ethics investigators Cornel Borbely and Hans-Joachim Eckert have lashed out at the decision to remove them office as “several hundred” cases of corruption at world football’s governing body go unresolved.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that FIFA were to replace chief investigator Borbely and lead judge Eckert with Maria Claudia Rojas and former European Court of Justice president Vassilios Skouris respectively.
Both Borbely and Eckert claimed that they had received no prior warning of FIFA’s decision before arriving for their congress in Bahrain, and believe the move “was politically intended”.
After bringing down former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini in 2015, leading to Gianni Infantino’s elevation, the pair also investigated Infantino on suspicion of corruption but found no wrongdoing.
“We investigated several hundred cases and several hundred are still pending and ongoing at the moment,” Borbely said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“We worked well on a very high level with a huge volume of cases. There was no need to change the Ethics Committee – the only conclusion can be that this was politically intended.”
He added: “Our removal means nothing else but the end of the reform process.
“The ethics commission is the key institution of the FIFA reforms. As it seems now, the work of the ethics committee was inconvenient for functionaries, for FIFA officials.
“The removal is not in FIFA’s best interests and it’s a setback for the fight against corruption. FIFA’s code of ethics is a dead letter.”
Though their mandate will end when Congress closes on Thursday, Borbely hinted that it would not stop him from doing his job up until that point.
“I cannot tell you what we will be doing…. but we take this mandate very seriously until the very end,” said Borbely.
Eckert too lamented the decision, saying it would undo the good work done to move FIFA away from the corruption scandals that have rocked the organisation in recent years.
“It’s not a great day for FIFA,” Eckert said. “The loser is soccer, because trying to get a good, honest FIFA now it’s very difficult.”
A FIFA statement released on Wednesday regarding the changes read: “The proposed list of candidates for the Audit and Compliance Committee, the Governance Committee and the judicial bodies was agreed to following a thorough consultation process involving FIFA and the six confederations.
“The decision on the final list of candidates was then agreed to unanimously by the FIFA Council.
“These individuals have been chosen because they are recognised, high-profile experts in their respective fields. Moreover, they better reflect the geographic and gender diversity that must be a part of an international organisation like FIFA.”
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