Published On: Fri, Dec 8th, 2017

Council of Europe questions suitability of FIFA's ethics investigator

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The Council of Europe is sceptical about FIFA’s appointment of Maria Claudia Rojas, the chairwoman of the Ethics Committee’s Investigatory Chamber.

A report by the human rights organisation argues that Rojas doesn’t have the skills for the job. Written by Anne Brasseur, a representative from Luxembourg who is a member of the Parti Democratique, it states, according to the Guardian’s David Conn: “Also, her lack of knowledge of English and French is a major obstacle, as almost all documents (relevant to the investigations) are in one of these two languages.

“This is not merely a factor that risks slowing her down in her examination of case files … but it also means – and this is much more problematic – that she is more dependent on the (FIFA) secretariat that assists her and that it is objectively difficult for her to enter into confidential contacts with witnesses or experts.”

Cornel Borbely and Hans-Joachim Eckert were omitted from FIFA’s proposal of the members for its judicial bodies in May. The former was the chairman of the Ethics Committee’s Investigatory Chamber and was replaced by Rojas, a judge from Colombia. The omissions reportedly took place while Gianni Infantino, the president of football’s governing body, was under investigation for two alleged instances of malpractice.

The report concluded that, by removing Borbely and Eckert, FIFA undermined the independence of reformed integrity procedures.

“Regretfully, the general feeling is that FIFA Council and Mr. Infantino, in particular, wished to get rid of persons who might have embarrassed them,” Brasseur wrote.

Brasseur referred to Rojas as a professional “of the highest level and of the highest integrity,” but wrote that her job “calls for experience in the field of criminal investigations, especially financial investigations, which Ms. Rojas does not have. She does not really meet the profile of a ‘prosecutor.'”

Per Conn, Borbely was investigating the alleged role of Vitaly Mutko – Russia’s deputy prime minister, the president of the Football Union of Russia, and a member of the Organising Committee for the World Cup – in state-sponsored doping when he was removed by FIFA.

On Monday, Mutko was excluded by the International Olympic Committee from participatin all future Olympic Games. The decision was announced as the Russian Olympic Committee was suspended by the IOC for the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia. FIFA said the decision “has no impact on the preparations for the 2018 World Cup.”

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