FIFA publishes anti-corruption code of conduct

FIFA published on Thursday a new code of conduct for all soccer players and officials that includes direct orders to reject bribery and corruption in the game.

FIFA has sent drafts of the code's 11 core principles to 208 soccer nations ahead of its annual Congress next month in Budapest, Hungary.

Key aims include urging "the FIFA family" to "reject and condemn all forms of bribery and corruption," and "behave ethically and act with integrity in all situations."

"The observance of the principles laid down in the Code of Conduct is essential to FIFA and its objectives," the document states. Failure to follow the code "might jeopardize the integrity of matches or competitions or give rise to abuse of association football."

A FIFA-appointed transparency task force will present its conduct charter on May 25 as part of President Sepp Blatter's drive to repair FIFA's battered reputation after bribery and alleged World Cup vote-rigging scandals. Soccer also has struggled with match-fixing, as investigations implicating clubs, coaches and referees are under way in several countries.

Also in Budapest, a separate task force analyzing soccer's statutes will suggest an age limit of 72 for all candidates for FIFA positions.

Member countries also will be asked to choose leaders of the world governing body's new and independent ethics and compliance committees, which will head anti-corruption probes and monitor FIFA's billion-dollar annual spending.

Other agenda items at the Congress include proposals for a new disciplinary sanction ordering players or officials to perform social work, and prohibiting referees and match officials being paid in cash for working at international matches.

The meeting comes midway through Blatter's promised two-year campaign to cleanse and modernize FIFA, guided by an independent panel of experts chaired by Swiss law professor Mark Pieth.

Pieth and members of his team gave cautious approval last month, after the scope and pace of the first phase of reforms was criticized by some as less than hoped for.

Still, the 76-year-old Blatter will take center stage in Budapest, exactly one year after he was re-elected to a fourth and final four-year presidential term with FIFA in crisis and his reputation at risk.

"We have been hit and I personally have been slapped. I don't want that ever again," Blatter said then in Zurich, days after his only election rival, Mohamed bin Hammam, withdrew following accusations of bribing Caribbean voters.

The election scandal came six months after the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights were awarded to Russia and Qatar, following widespread allegations of wrongdoing by several members of FIFA's executive committee.