21st September 2017

UEFA elects Sorokin, the only candidate to replace Mutko on FIFA Council

The UEFA Congress elected Alexey Sorokin, CEO of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia local organising committee, as a member of the FIFA Council until 2021. Sorokin was the only candidate received for the post, after Vitaly Mutko failed an eligibility test due to his position as Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister. The FIFA Governance Committee determined that Mutko was not ‘politically neutral’, as required by Article 14 of the FIFA Code of Ethics. Sorokin’s boss is Mutko, who is President of the Football Union of Russia (FUR) as well as Chairing the Russia 2018 LOC.

However, despite FIFA’s rules on political neutrality, Mutko is still listed as Deputy Chairman of FIFA’s Security and Integrity Committee; and as a member of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Bureau. Mutko was Russia’s Minister of Sport from 2008 until 2016, and was appointed as a FIFA Council member in 2009. FIFA’s rules on political neutrality were not included in previous versions of its Statutes, but were part of the 2012 version of its Code of Ethics. This raises questions as to why Mutko was re-elected to the Executive Committee (as the FIFA Council was then called) at the UEFA Congress in London on 24 May 2013, and why that re-election was accepted at the 2013 FIFA Congress, despite Mutko’s high-profile government post.

The WADA IP Report found that Mutko ordered the covering up of a Russian footballer’s positive test…

Questions also remain as to why FIFA has chosen to ban Mutko for political non-neutrality at this point in time, as he held a government position as Russia’s Minister for Sport while also being a member of the FIFA Council and the Executive Committee that preceded it. Mutko was implicated in the Independent Person (IP) Report produced for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) by Richard McLaren as covering up the positive test of a Russian First Division footballer.

Questions also remain as to whether Sorokin is free from political influence, given that he is CEO of the LOC for Russia 2018, which is chaired by Mutko, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister. The situation is likely to rankle with organisations such as the Kuwait Football Association (KFA), which was suspended by FIFA for government interference in sport.

UEFA also appointed two members of the European Club Association (ECA) to sit on the UEFA Executive Committee – Andrea Agnelli (Juventus FC/Italy) and Ivan Gazidis (Arsenal FC/England). Two independent members of the UEFA Governance and Compliance Committee were also ratified by the Congress: José Juan Pintó Sala, a Spanish lawyer and Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) arbitrator, and Charles Deguara, Auditor General of the National Audit Office in Malta.

Four members of the UEFA Organs for the Administration of Justice, who were appointed by the UEFA Executive Committee at its meetings on 9 December 2016 and 1 June 2017, were also ratified:

• Thomas Hollerer (Austria), member of the UEFA Appeals Body;
• Ivan Robba (Gibraltar), UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector;
• Edvinas Eimontas (Lithuania), UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector;
• Nebojša Ivković (Serbia), UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector;

Proposed amendments to the UEFA Statutes were also approved. The provisions will give effect to the new Memorandum of Understanding between UEFA and the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), and pending Executive Committee approval, it will aim to grant the EPFL one seat on the UEFA Executive Committee in the future.

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