Fifa is facing renewed fierce criticism of its trustworthiness and commitment to reform after it announced that the chairmen of both arms of its ethics committee are to be suddenly replaced.
The Swiss lawyer Cornel Borbély, who has headed multiple ethics committee investigations in recent years – including that of the previous Fifa president, Sepp Blatter – and the former German Judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, chair of the committee’s adjudicatory chamber‚ which decides on sanctions and bans, met the news of their dismissal with a strong statement arguing that it represents “de facto the end of Fifa’s reform efforts”.
Fifa released that news on the eve of Thursday’s congress in Bahrain as it declined to confirm media reports that it is to investigate last summer’s €100m (£89.3m) signing of Paul Pogba by Manchester United from Juventus. That followed alleged revelations based on leaked documents, that Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, was paid €27m by Juventus from a mandate to sell the player, as well as €19.4m by United on a contract to secure the midfielder’s signing, and €2.6m by United on behalf of Pogba for negotiating his wage package.
One unnamed Fifa source has been quoted saying the organisation will investigate but it is not clear what the basis of any investigation would be. An agent is permitted in certain circumstances to represent all three sides in a football transfer although, if true, the revelation that Raiola was paid a total of €49m for the deal will astonish world football. None of the individuals was available for comment although United issued a statement which read: “We do not comment on individual contracts. Fifa have had the documents since the transfer was concluded in August.”