President of the Barbados Football Association (BFA) Randy Harris has made it clear that no association member is among those who accepted or are being asked to return expensive watches presented by the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) to officials during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
FIFA has asked officials to return the watches or risk disciplinary action. The commemorative gifts were handed out by one of the CBF’s sponsors to various people at the World Cup, including 28 members of FIFA’s executive committee. The Parmigiani watches, each valued at £16,400, were given to 32 association chiefs, 28 FIFA executive committee members, and five other members of South American associations.
Harris was among BFA officials in Brazil for the World Cup and when contacted today by Barbados TODAY he explained that the gifts were given to association chiefs of the 32 teams that had actually made the World Cup final. Harris explained that accepting such expensive gifts was a no-no according to FIFA regulations.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter was also on the list of recipients but it is not known what happened to that watch, while UEFA president Michel Platini has indicated he is returning his.
England’s Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has also said he will return the watch given to him.
“We are taking steps to return the bag and its contents, which are still in their original packaging,” Dyke said today.
“During the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo, a bag with a watch inside was left in my hotel room by the Brazilian FA. I had no idea of the value and it has been left untouched in my office since returning to England. I welcome FIFA’s investigation on the matter, including their intention to donate the items to good causes back in Brazil. The fact that gifts of great value are being handed out randomly and often with the recipient unaware shows up a culture in need of change. I had actually set the bag aside in my box of items to donate to charity,” Dyke said.
FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said he found a watch in a souvenir bag in his garage last week and would return it. Several officials did report the watches to the ethics committee
FIFA’s code of ethics state that football officials should not accept gifts of more than “symbolic or trivial value” and that “if in doubt, gifts shall not be offered or accepted”.
It also states that ignorance is no defence and that officials “are expected to be aware of the importance of their duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities”.
The ethics committee has indicated that if officials returned the watches by October 24 no further action would be taken and they would be given to charity.
FIFA’s ethics committee said in a statement today: “The 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 reported the matter.
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