The international football federation has just modified the disciplinary procedures concerning cases of sexual assault or harassment.
FIFA has made disciplinary proceedings for cases of sexual assault or harassment imprescriptible, the prescription of which was previously set at 10 years, according to the new version of its Code of Ethics which entered into force on Wednesday.
Wishing to “strengthen integrity in football”, the Zurich-based body also provides that victims can in future be considered as parties in these disciplinary cases, with the possibility of being informed of the decision and of appeal it. Similarly, the new Code of Ethics requires national federations or confederations to inform Fifa of “any decision rendered in matters of sexual abuse and match manipulation”.
The previous text provided for a 10-year prescription for offenses related to “the protection of physical and moral integrity”, which include in particular sexual assault or harassment. This prescription could be interrupted in the event of the formal initiation of criminal proceedings against the defendant.
“The changes aim in particular to improve the protection of certain parties during proceedings before the judicial bodies of Fifa, while providing the latter with additional instruments to combat illegal, immoral or unethical methods and practices” , writes the international federation in a press release.
Several sexual assault scandals have shaken the world of football in recent years, notably in Gabon, Haiti, the United States or Afghanistan, forcing Fifa to disciplinary proceedings, especially in cases where local authorities refused to engage themselves. Fifa had already tightened its disciplinary sanctions in the event of sexual assault in 2019, sanctioning any such offense with a ban on carrying out any football-related activity for a minimum of ten years.
FIFA also updated its disciplinary code on Wednesday, providing for example that a deadbeat club will see its recruitment ban extended until it complies with the decision of the Football Court.