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FIFA's new code of conduct for players, officials focuses on anti-corruption measures

04/26/2012 09:07 EDT | Updated 06/26/2012 05:12 EDT
GENEVA - FIFA published a new code of conduct for all football players and officials on Thursday which includes direct orders to reject bribery and corruption in the game.

FIFA has sent drafts of the code's 11 core principles to 208 football nations ahead of their annual Congress next month in Budapest, Hungary.

Key aims include urging "the FIFA family" to "reject and condemn all forms of bribery and corruption," and "behave ethically and act with integrity in all situations."

"The observance of the principles laid down in the Code of Conduct is essential to FIFA and its objectives," the governing body states in the document. Failure to follow the code "might jeopardize the integrity of matches or competitions or give rise to abuse of association football."

A FIFA-appointed transparency task force will present its conduct charter on May 25 as part of President Sepp Blatter's drive to repair FIFA's battered reputation after bribery and alleged World Cup vote-rigging scandals. Football as a whole has also struggled with match-fixing, as investigations implicating clubs, coaches and referees are under way in several countries.

Also in Budapest, a separate task force analyzing football's statutes will suggest an age limit of 72 for all candidates for FIFA positions.

Member countries will also be asked to choose leaders of the world governing body's new and independent ethics and compliance committees, who will head anti-corruption probes and monitor FIFA's billion-dollar annual spending.

Other agenda items at the Congress include proposals for a new disciplinary sanction ordering players or officials to perform social work, and prohibiting referees and match officials being paid in cash for working at international matches.

The meeting comes midway through Blatter's promised two-year campaign to cleanse and modernize FIFA, guided by an independent panel of experts chaired by Swiss law professor Mark Pieth.

Pieth and members of his team gave cautious approval last month, after the scope and pace of the first phase of reforms was criticized by some as less than hoped for.

Still, the 76-year-old Blatter will take centre stage in Budapest, exactly one year after he was re-elected to a fourth and final four-year presidential term with FIFA in crisis and his reputation at risk.

"We have been hit and I personally have been slapped. I don't want that ever again," Blatter said then in Zurich, days after his only election rival, Mohamed bin Hammam, withdrew following accusations of bribing Caribbean voters.

The election scandal came six months after the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights were awarded to Russia and Qatar, following widespread allegations of wrongdoing by several members of FIFA's executive committee.

"There were unmistakable calls for more transparency at world football's governing body," Blatter writes in the Budapest agenda document. "I was convinced that it was imperative for our organization to change and that FIFA needed to strengthen good governance, transparency and zero tolerance against wrongdoing.

"The implementation will be a step-by-step process and I am committed to doing everything in my power to fulfil this promise."

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