FIFA announces new pro bono counsel
How Football Goals Became Pro Bono Goals
Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is making ground-breaking strides in maintaining the ethics of the beloved sport. As of August 1st, 2019, both their code of ethics and disciplinary code was amended to include provisions for a pro bono legal counsel. As stated in article 38, section IX of the FCE, “FIFA legal aid will provide the following, upon request of the individual: the release of having to pay the costs of proceedings, a pro bono counsel, and the payment of reasonable travel and accommodation costs and those of witnesses and experts, including the travel and accommodation costs of any pro bono counsel selected.”
CLOSING THE WEALTH GAP AFTER A HISTORY OF CORRUPTION
This move is made to reportedly “close the gap that exists between individuals in terms of their financial power by supporting those who have sufficient financial means in the scope of ethics proceedings. “It’s not long ago that FIFA was under fire in 2015 for major corruption after the Department of Justice charged over a dozen world soccer members, including Jack Warner, former Vice President of FIFA and President of CONCACAF, with corruption charges, especially abuse of funds.
But misuse of money isn’t the only corruption that FIFA is trying to amend against. Article 23, section V, provisions for the “inclusion of sexual abuse and exploitation as specific infringements of the protection of physical and mental integrity” sexual abuse being yet another cause of controversy for FIFA. The very notion of using the term “corruption” is revised in the code of ethics, as all mentions of the word corruption was previously stricken from the document late 2018. Both the term “corruption” (article 27 FCE) and “misuse” (article 28 FCE) were reinstated. Just these tiny edits can alter the whole case in how violations are punished.
PRO BONO COUNSEL
So who exactly will sit on FIFA’s pro bono counsel? Well, they don’t know yet. According to an official statement released by FIFA, September 2nd, 2019, “FIFA is now looking for a pro bono counsel, who must fulfill the following criteria:
- “Active sports lawyer in a company and/or law firm certifying at least 7 years dealing with sports law matters,
- 3-5 years of experience with sports organizations,
- 3-5 years of experience in sports arbitration proceedings,
- Fluency in two of FIFA’s official languages would be an asset, i.e. English, Spanish, French, and/or German.”
Lawyers will not receive compensation for their work, “however, FIFA may decide to reimburse reasonable travel and accommodation costs.” What constitutes their guidelines for “reasonable travel and accommodation costs” as well as what the process for reimbursement is unclear, but we have reached out to Carlos Schneider, who handles these inquiries for FIFA, for a comment.
As soon as a case is opened, a defendant is able to request legal aid. They are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, although they technically can submit a request at any time during the proceeding. A request may be denied by the FIFA secretariat of the Disciplinary Committee or Ethics Committee, respectively, if it “is clear that the applicant has sufficient financial means.” Again, there guidelines for this are vague.
DON’T JUST WISH FOR THE BEST, DO THE BEST
Will this be a big turning point for FIFA? Will they finally remove the legacy of scandal and corruption that has been brewing among them these past years? Or, will these amendments just be in vain, either with a committee that is too strict on what qualifies for aid, an inefficient legal counsel, reimbursement processes too difficult to maintain, or a combination of these issues? While the typical response would be that we can only hope for the best and see how things play out, we at joeprobono.com prefer a more active approach. Rather than stand idle to witness how the pro bono aid of others performs, come join us at joeprobono.com and elect your own expertise pro bono to those in need. Or, if you’re someone who needs help, come receive services through our extensive list of professionals in fields such as law, accounting, finance, graphic design, and more. Head over to joeprobono.com to get started today!