FIFA keeps eye on corruption allegations in England

FIFA said on Thursday it was monitoring the inquiries into corruption allegations in English football and said the affair was not good for the game.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 23:26 IST

FIFA said on Thursday it was monitoring the inquiries into corruption allegations in English football and said the affair was not good for the game.

The BBC television programme Panorama made accusations of corruption and rule-breaking by managers and agents on Tuesday, prompting the English FA to launch a series of inquiries.

FIFA spokesman Markus Siegler said that FIFA, world soccer's governing body, was aware of the allegations and said they coincided with FIFA moves already underway for it to become more involved in the policing of agents' activities.

"We are informed about what has been brought forward," Siegler told Reuters, adding he had a detailed summary of the Panorama programme on his desk by 7.00am the next morning.

"Of course, we must be careful and we must apply the principle of innocent unless proven guilty.

"That's very important. But of course, when something like that comes up, this is not good for football.

"If it's true, if the evidence is proven, this is certainly not what we want."

Under FIFA's current rules, the inquiries and any disciplinary action are entirely down to the FA.

However, Siegler indicated this could be about to change. FIFA launched a series of task forces in September 2005 to look into various aspects of football, one them charged with financial matters.

"According to existing regulations, as far as agents are concerned, the FA's in charge ... even if they are called FIFA players' agents, the tests and the responsibility are with the respective national associations," he said.

"But the regulation is under revision, as part of the work of the Task Force 'For the Good of the Game'.

"So it might be that in the future, FIFA will have a more direct role in that.

"We expect that concrete proposals from the working groups will be presented to the executive committee at its meeting in December."

Although the Good of the Game also has groups looking at political and competition issues, Siegler said: "It's part of the work...on financial matters to track down all the financial flaws how transfers are done, multiple (club) ownership, all these kind of things and including also the players' agents.

"That's exactly to tackle the challenges in football today, that's exactly the point."

Asked if the FIFA were monitoring the FA's inquiries, he said: "Sure. The FA is charged with dealing with the matter and of course there is a communication line between the FA and FIFA. They will inform us of developments.

"We cannot close our eyes and we do not want to close our eyes.

"But the FA, like the other members of FIFA, have their statutes and various regulations. They must all be in line with FIFA, but basically a national association is in charge, to run football in its country."

All of those accused in the Panorama programme have denied any wrongdoing, with several raising the prospect of legal action against the BBC.

First Published: Sep 21, 2006 23:26 IST