Members of FIFA’s Executive Committee are to be ordered to hand back Parmigiani Fleurier watches that gifted by the Brazilian Football Confederation during the summer’s football World Cup.
The Ethics Committee of FIFA, world football’s governing body, was informed that the watches were left in goodie bags in the hotel rooms of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and 26 other Executive Committee members in Brazil.
Acceptance of the high value gifts, or anything beyond ‘symbolic or trivial value’, would constitute a clear breach of FIFA’s code of ethics and the organisation’s chief investigator had already prevented the delivery of more gifted watches, this time from the World Cup’s official watch and timekeeping partner, Hublot.
Parmigiani Fleurier is the official watch partner of the Brazilian Football Confederation and produced the Pershing CBF Chronograph to mark the 100th anniversary of the organisation, which is thought to be the watch in question.
Some members reported not being aware of the watches in the bags, others left the bags in their rooms while others reported the presence of the watches to relevant FIFA authorities.
The Hublot watches, sent by the LVMH-owned brand as a ‘souvenir’ of the tournament to FIFA HQ in Zurich, never reached any members of the executive committee and were blocked by FIFA from reaching the intended recipients.
FIFA issued the following formal statement: “Firstly, the fact is that Fifa has not distributed any watches to any of the members of its executive committee nor to its president.
“As the official timekeeper of the 2014 Fifa World Cup, and in line with the company’s standard approach for any of its marketing activations, Hublot provided Fifa with watches as part of the contract and as a form of value in kind.
“In accordance with internal governance processes, Fifa formally asked the independent chairman of the investigatory chamber of the Fifa ethics committee, Michael J Garcia, and the independent chairman of the audit and compliance committee, Domenico Scala, in June 2014 if it would be acceptable to provide its executive committee and the Fifa president with these watches as a souvenir of the 2014 Fifa World Cup.
“The two chairmen determined in June 2014 that this would not be permitted under the organisation’s compliance rules and as such it was decided not to distribute any of the watches to any members.
“Secondly, the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) distributed commemorative watches at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil from their own sponsor (as part of the association’s centennial celebrations) to various people, including the members of the FIFA executive committee. The ethics committee was informed about this accordingly and is dealing with the matter.”