European football's governing body UEFA has introduced a new anti-bribery code to prevent elections to choose tournament hosts being rigged.
UEFA's updated disciplinary code now includes "ethical provisions" relating to its officials; who the code states must "act with complete honesty." Executive committee members who vote on the location of UEFA competitions are now warned they have a "duty of care and fidelity" to make their decisions without seeking to enrich themselves or family members.
The code states that officials “are required to faithfully execute their responsibilities and make decisions in good conscience and good faith, in accordance with objective criteria and never on the basis of any real or perceived improper advantage, pecuniary or otherwise."
Hosts of Champions League finals will now be chosen by the 17-person executive committee, under changes brought in by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.
A specific section in the code on bribery warns all officials from UEFA countries not to “directly or indirectly offer, promise, give or accept any undue pecuniary or benefit of any kind with a view to influencing UEFA's decision-making, whether in business related matters or in any other sphere, commercial or otherwise."
Only gifts of a symbolic or traditional nature can be offered or accepted. Such gifts can only be given or accepted if they “cannot reasonably be considered’’ likely to influence the behaviour of UEFA decision makers.
It was probably inevitable that UEFA would take some steps to tackle the possibility of bribery in football. Like football’s world governing body FIFA, UEFA has had to deal with allegations of corruption at the highest levels.
The new code does indicate an awareness of the need to reform and a willingness to remove the potential for bribery. What the code appears to demonstrate, however, is a lack of any real enforcement. It emphasises the need to act legally and appropriately but there seems little information about how UEFA is to police its officials.
What remains to be seen is how, or if, the code will prevent the much-reported use of bribes by individuals and organisations to secure the huge revenue that comes from hosting a major football tournament.