Swiss weigh law change after FIFA bribery scandal

October 27, 2010

Source: Reuters – Switzerland is considering closing a loophole for sporting bodies in its anti-corruption law following allegations of bribery among FIFA officials for World Cup bids.

Social Democrat Anita Thanei, who heads the Swiss Parliament’s legal committee, said she would launch a parliamentary initiative for the anti-corruption laws to be amended.

“I expect the measure will find broad support,” she said on Tuesday.

“International sporting bodies are acting in the public interest, which is why the public is legitimately bothered when such cases are not punished.”

Defence minister Ueli Maurer, who also oversees sport, said the justice ministry would look into the matter.

“It’s about corruption, it’s possibly about money laundering, it’s about fixing bets, touches doping too,” he told Swiss television news late on Monday.

Since the accusations surfaced last week, soccer’s world governing body FIFA has promised a zero tolerance approach to unethical behaviour in the contest to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Officials from international sport organisations are not currently covered by Switzerland’s anti-corruption statutes.

But politicians have called for action following news last week that two members of FIFA’s executive committee were provisionally suspended on suspicion of selling their votes.

Switzerland is home to dozens of international sport organisations who choose it as a base for its favourable legal framework and tax regime.

In addition to FIFA, European soccer confederation UEFA which is based in Nyon and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), housed in Lausanne and which was tainted by a vote-selling scandal involving the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002, are also located there.