FIFA orders officials to give back luxury watches

| 22/09/2014

(CNS): The world football body is embroiled in another scandal involving ethics issues following revelations that managers from the administrative arm of the game had received US$26,000 watches as gifts during the world cup in Brazil. FIFA has ordered that all 65 Parmigiani watches are handed in to the ethics committee investigators by 24 October and no further action will be taken against those who had accepted the ‘gifts’ in contravention of the football body’s rules. CNS asked CONCACAF if the regional president and VP of FIFA, Jeff Webb, had received and taken one of the watches but the question was unanswered and we were directed to the FIFA statement.

Given his position Webb almost certainly received one of the luxury watches which were delivered in gift bags to a group comprising the 28 officials on the FIFA Executive Committee, a representative from each of the 32 Member Associations competing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and a representative from each of the 10 Member Associations in Conmebol.

Some officials immediately reported the delivery of the watches, which the Brazilian Football Confederation had said came from a sponsor and were bought for USD 8,750 each although they were alter valued at much more. FIFA said that in mid-June, “several football officials” reported that they had received what appeared to be valuable watches. It is not clear if Webb was one of those who alerted other officials about the gift bags.

An investigation into the issue was triggered and undertaken by the FIFA Ethics Committee in which the independent appraisal determined that the watch had a market value of US$26,604.

FIFA’s ethics code ban’s officials from accepting expensive gifts because of the obvious perception of bribery. The only gifts they can accept are of "symbolic or trivial value” and when they are offered anything that is more than of trivial value such as a $26,000 watch they are obligated to immediately report the potential breach to the Investigatory Chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee.

The watches which were distributed by the Brazilian football body on behalf of the sponsor were most definitely not trivial or symbolic and not all of those who received the gifts alerted the association.

“CBF should not have offered the watches, and those who received gift bags should have promptly checked whether the items inside were appropriate and, upon discovering the watch, either returned it or, like the football officials referred to above, reported the matter to the Investigatory Chamber,” FIFA said in a statement last week. “In an effort to resolve this matter expeditiously, the Investigatory Chamber will not pursue further formal ethics proceedings in this matter against officials who submit the Parmigiani watch they received from CBF to the Secretariat of the Investigatory Chamber by no later than October 24, 2014.”

FIFA said it will donate the watches to an independent non-profit organization or organizations committed to corporate social responsibility projects in Brazil.

However it may not be getting them all back. UEFA’s boss Michel Platini said he considered it rude to return gifts so he would prefer to make a donation to charity for the value as he criticised the handling of the situation by FIFA.   Platini said he had no idea how much the watch was worth at the time and as all the officials received one of the designer watches it should have demanded their return when they were given out, if there was a problem, not several months later.

Platini said that FIFA was only demanding their return now because of the media reports about the expensive gifts. “Because there’s an article in the British press, all of a sudden FIFA says that they need to return the watches,” said Platini.Platini also said watches were common gifts in the football world, which was illustrated by further revelations from FIFA last week.

It said that  the independent chairs of the FIFA Ethics Committee's Investigatory Chamber Michael Garcia and Domenico Scala had also been asked to investigate a request by Hublot to give out commemorating watches for the 2014 tournament to members of the FIFA Executive Committee. These 56  watches were proposed to be given during the Executive Committee's September 2014 meetings in Zurich but Garcia and Scala found the gift would likely violate the code of ethics and compensation policies.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymousand says:

    Yeah
    Dem have too much time on dem hand.
    Pure scandel dem bring everyhere. Yea

  2. Anonymous says:

    FIFA only makes statements, they don't accept questions. They have 400+ employees on a average salary of $220K, a stockpile of cash in excess of a billion dollars, and yet the president of every association in every country seems to be bemoaning the fact that local governments are not giving enough to football.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly, enough money has gone to sports over the years, ENOUGH.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is the problem- every body and his papa want the local governments to keep bailing them out and paying their bills.