Bach: FIFA must go through ‘painful experience’ to reform

LAUSANNE: Saying there is “no comparison” in the scale of the IOC s Salt Lake City scandal and FIFA s corruption crisis, IOC President Thomas Bach urged soccer s governing body to take the “painful” steps needed to clean itself up and restore credibility in the organization.


Bach gave his most extensive comments to date on the bribery allegations engulfing FIFA, a far-reaching scandal that led Sepp Blatter to resign as president last week pending new elections.

Bach said FIFA should press ahead with reforms, citing the measures taken by the International Olympic Committee to recover from the Salt Lake crisis in the late 1990s.

“It s not up to the IOC to give advice, it s just to remember that we had this kind of problems 15 years ago,” Bach said. “We also know from our experience that … putting everything on the desk can be a painful experience, but it is absolutely necessary to do this as we have seen from our own history.”

Also Monday, the IOC executive board approved new events for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea

Big Air in snowboard, mass start in speedskating, mixed doubles in curling, and a nations team event in Alpine skiing. The IOC also approved cost-cutting venue changes for seven sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, bringing to $1.7 billion the total amount saved by Japanese organizers so far.

Bach said the size of the FIFA scandal was much bigger than the case that led to the ouster of 10 IOC members for accepting improper inducements during Salt Lake s winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

In addition to kicking out members, Bach said, the IOC undertook structural reforms, including a ban on member visits to bid cities, creation of an ethics commission, introduction of term limits and inclusion of athlete members on the committee.

“We can only encourage FIFA to continue (with) the reforms which have been initiated,” Bach said. “We cannot give advice of what to do in detail but we appreciate there is the readiness for reforms now and for substantial reforms.”

Blatter announced he s stepping down less than a week after seven officials were arrested in a dawn Swiss police raid on a Zurich hotel on corruption charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Blatter made the decision four days after winning re-election to a fifth term, saying he would lead reform efforts until new elections can be held.

“The structure of FIFA is very different from the IOC,” Bach said. “The scope, the difference in the scope is huge. There is almost no comparison of what happened with regard to Salt Lake City and what is now at stake with regards to FIFA.”

Bach said the Salt Lake scandal involved the choice of Olympic host cities, while FIFA faces “many other allegations” that involve sums of money “which cannot be compared to what was at stake for the IOC 15 years ago.”

Asked whether Blatter should step aside completely now, Bach said: “This is something that FIFA has to decide. FIFA is a federation of its own right and it is not for the IOC to interfere.”

Blatter, who has been an IOC member since 1999, retains his seat as long as he remains FIFA president. He would lose his membership next year when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 80. Blatter is not attending Tuesday s technical briefing for IOC members with the bid cities for the 2022 Winter Games Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“He informed us 10 to 14 days ago that he will not be able to make it for the briefing because of other commitments,” Bach said. “I think he is not the only one who excused himself.”