Interpol ditches FIFA deal as corruption scandal deepens

PARIS: Interpol suspended a 20-million-euro ($22 million) sports “integrity” agreement with FIFA on Friday, at the end of testing week for football’s scandal-hit ruling body that saw its chief spokesman quit, bidding for the 2026 World Cup shelved and records seized from its Zurich headquarters.


FIFA also faced growing calls — this time from the European parliament — for its outgoing president, Sepp Blatter, to step aside at once, while plans by Germany to reform the way the organisation is run were roundly rejected by football chiefs in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Interpol’s decision to freeze funding from FIFA to fight match fixing and illegal gambling was perhaps inevitable, coming only days after the international police organisation put two former FIFA officials on its most-wanted list and the corruption crisis in world football deepened.

The increasing damage to FIFA’s reputation raised questions about how long other associated bodies and even sponsors would continue to work with it.

“The real damage of this decision by Interpol is the wider perception that conflicted organisations are now deserting FIFA. It further exacerbates FIFA’s ‘unclean’ image and its escalating isolation,” said Chris Eaton, an ex-Interpol officer and former FIFA adviser on anti-corruption, now with the International Center for Sport Security.

Interpol’s decision was a disappointment, FIFA said, since the 2011 “integrity in sport” programme was not connected to the “current issues” it faced.

The corruption scandal erupted when police descended on a luxury hotel in Zurich on May 27 and arrested seven FIFA officials, pending extradition to the United States.

At the centre of the investigation are transactions that went into accounts held in a bank in Trinidad in the name of CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, that were “controlled” by former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner.

In an interview with British television, Oliver Camps, described as Warner’s right-hand man, said he felt “used and abused” by his old friend and associate.

“We were like brothers. I realise that I should not have put so much confidence in him because he made me do the wrong thing and I was doing it very innocently. I knew nothing about those things,” Camps told Channel 4 News.

Warner has denied all charges levelled against him. He was not immediately available for comment.

Channel 4 News said Camps, Caribbean football’s finance committee chairman, had signed cheques worth millions of dollars on Warner’s behalf, which were supposed to finance Trinidad’s team in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. It said he was still signing the cheques three years after the World Cup ended.