Soccer-FIFA holds “fruitful talks” with the Council of Europe

ZURICH, July 16 (Reuters) – FIFA said it held “fruitful” talks with the Council of Europe on Tuesday, the two sides having clashed last year over the affairs of soccer’s governing body.

“It’s been quite a historical moment to welcome a high-ranking delegation from such a respected institution like the Council of Europe,” FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in a statement.

“I appreciated very much the spirit of dialogue which prevailed during our meeting.

“It gave us the opportunity to answer the delegates’ questions and provide a lot of information on FIFA and its core missions, as well as an update on our governance scheme, following the overwhelming approval of FIFA’s reform process by the FIFA Congress in May.”

The comments were a contrast to last year’s exchanges when the Council of Europe called for an internal investigation of Blatter’s re-election as FIFA president for a fourth mandate in 2011 and made reference to the ISL bribery scandal.

The committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media said then that FIFA should investigate whether “the successful candidate” had exploited his position to obtain “unfair advantages”.

It added that FIFA should “cast full light on the facts underlying the various scandals which, in recent years, have tarnished its image and that of international football”.

FIFA replied that the report contained “certain inaccuracies” and Blatter was subsequently reported as saying that politicians should not interfere in its business.

That drew a further response from French national assembly member Francois Rochebloine, who compiled the Council of Europe report.

“The money managed by FIFA is money that belongs to football and not to its officials but in addition no sports organisation can become a place where the law does not apply and where corruption and fraud are in practice tolerated and go unpunished,” he said.

“What is at issue here is compliance with the rule of law.” (Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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