Domenico Scala, chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, announced his resignation on Saturday following the implementation of a new measure at the world football governing body, which he believes will “deprive [the committee] of its independence”.
Italo-Swiss Scala made the announcement the day after the 66th FIFA congress in Mexico City, which brings together the world's football federations. At the congress, new FIFA president Gianni Infantino adopted an amendment that would give FIFA's governance the power to appoint or dismiss chairmen of the ethics and audit committees.
It marks the first major challenge to Mr Infantino's presidency since he was elected to succeed Sepp Blatter in February. Mr Scala, who has monitored FIFA's billion-dollar annual spending since 2012, described his resignation as a wake-up call for people working to reform Fifa.
Tensions between the two men were exposed on Friday at Fifa's annual congress in Mexico City. Member federations voted in new powers to Mr Infantino's ruling council to fire Mr Scala and ethics committee leaders who investigate corruption claims.
Those independent officials have been seen as a key check on FIFA since their appointments were the main achievements of a Blatter-led round of anti-corruption reforms in 2012.
I am consternated about this decision, Mr Scala said in a resignation statement, citing Friday's move, because it undermines a central pillar of the good governance of FIFA, and it destroys a substantial achievement of the reforms.
In a speech on Friday, Mr Infantino declared FIFA's corruption-fuelled crisis to be over. He later defended his new powers to remove key people overseeing his work when he was questioned at a news conference.
Those that are making the comments have not really understood what we are doing, Mr Infantino said in Mexico City, adding his council would have the powers for only one year.
The judgments need to be made by the quality of the members which are sitting on these boards rather than by making speculations or putting intentions in the minds of people which are far from the reality, he said.
But the tactic was criticised by former FIFA anti-corruption adviser Mark Pieth who helped bring Mr Scala, a Swiss pharmaceutical industry executive, to FIFA four years ago.
”(Infantino) is actually exactly working like (Michel) Platini and Blatter, Mr Pieth said. We desperately want to go beyond that now. Mr Pieth suggested that Mr Infantino disagreed over a salary offer of 2 million Swiss francs made by a three-member Fifa remuneration panel headed by Mr Scala.
It is personal, it is very clear, Pieth said. He wants more than the 2 million that Domenico is offering him.
In reply to the incident FIFA made public a Statement on resignation of Mr. Scala.
FIFA accepts Domenico Scala’s resignation as Chairman of the Audit & Compliance Committee with immediate effect.
FIFA regrets that Mr. Scala has misinterpreted the purpose of the decision taken by the FIFA Congress. The decision was made to permit the Council to appoint members on an interim basis to the vacant positions of the new committees so they can start fulfilling their roles as part of the ongoing reform process until the next FIFA Congress in 2017. In addition, the measure allows for the swift removal of members who have breached their obligations.
The Council fully respects the independence of the Audit and Compliance and the Ethics committees, and any suggestions to the contrary are without merit.
Mr. Scala has made unfounded claims which are baseless. FIFA is focused on reform and the path forward as evidenced by the appointment of a new FIFA Secretary General.
Pending the appointment of a new Chairman of the Audit & Compliance Committee, current Deputy Chairman Sindi Mabaso Koyana will serve as acting Chairman.
The appointments of all members of the FIFA Audit & Compliance Committee and FIFA's judiciary bodies are subject to strict eligibility checks by the independent FIFA Review Committee. The Congress elects the members of the Review Committee.
Former European Court of Justice Advocate General Miguel Poiares Maduro, former Indian High Court judge Mukul Mudgal and former Sporting Cristal President Felipe Cantuarias Salaverry will form the first independent Review Committee. This mechanism is designed to protect the organisation against any conflict of interest in the approval of any appointments to the key committees and bodies.