World soccer’s governing body, FIFA, expressed dismay on Friday after Interpol suspended a 20 million euro ($22 million) arrangement on fighting corruption, adding to what a former insider in both organisations called FIFA’s “escalating isolation”.
The international police body said it would stop using funds it gets from FIFA for the “Integrity in Sport” programme in light of the investigations into corruption surrounding FIFA.
“All external partners, whether public or private, must share the fundamental values and principles of the organization, as well as those of the wider law enforcement community,” said Juergen Stock, Interpol’s secretary general.
FIFA agreed in 2011 to give Interpol 20 million euros to fund a 10-year programme to tackle match-rigging and illegal gambling, Interpol’s biggest single contribution from any private partner.
It said in a statement that it was “disappointed to learn of the decision”, adding that the programme “has been a key part of addressing the transnational problem of match fixing”.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced his resignation last week as U.S. and Swiss authorities widened their investigations into bribery and corruption at the Swiss-based organisation.
Former Interpol officer Chris Eaton, who also served as FIFA’s head of security, told Reuters that Interpol’s move “further exacerbates FIFA’s ‘unclean’ image and its escalating isolation”.
“The real damage … is the wider perception that conflicted organisations are now deserting FIFA,” he said.
Eaton added that the agreement provided only for Interpol to deliver anti-corruption training and advice to FIFA, especially in the fight against match-fixing, but no operational information or intelligence.
An Interpol spokeswoman said the programme had other funding, and would continue.
She said the FIFA money had been spent on education and prevention measures. Under the agreement, 4 million euros were to be spent in each of the first two years of the project, and 1.5 million each year thereafter.
Interpol’s total budget is 80 million euros a year, according to its website. ($1 = 0.8937 euros)