The FIFA Ethics Committee is one of FIFA's three judicial bodies. It is organized in two chambers, the Investigatory Chamber and the Adjudicatory Chamber. Its duties are regulated by several official documents, most importantly the FIFA Code of Ethics. FIFA's other judicial bodies are the Disciplinary Committee and the Appeal Committee.
The Investigatory Chamber's main task is to investigate potential violations of the FIFA Code of Ethics. Investigations can be carried out at any time, on the discretion of the Investigatory Chamber. In prima facie cases, the chamber has to open investigations. The chamber has to inform all parties involved that an investigation is being carried out, except for situations in which such information could harm the investigations. Investigatory methods include written inquiries and interviews with the parties and other witnesses. Investigations can, if necessary, be conducted by several members of the chamber and can also be assisted by third parties. At the end of an investigation, the chamber delivers a final report to the Adjudicatory Chamber. Should new and important information regarding an investigation come to light, however, the chamber can reopen an investigatory process.
The Adjudicatory Chamber has to review the reports of the Investigatory Chamber and decide whether a case should be proceeded or closed. The Adjudicatory Chamber has the right to return a report to the Investigatory Chamber or carry out further investigations on its own behalf. After reviewing a report of the Investigatory Chamber and after conducting further investigations if deemed necessary, the Adjudicatory Chamber sends a report to all parties involved and asks for their statements.
In addition, the Adjudicatory Chamber has to finally decide on appropriate sanctions. Sanctions must relate to the three fundamental documents regulating the conduct of any person related to FIFA. These documents are the FIFA Code of Ethics, the FIFA Disciplinary Code and the FIFA Statutes. Thus, sanctions can range from warnings and reprimands for lesser cases of misbehavior up to lifelong bans on taking part in any football-related activity worldwide.
The chairmen of FIFA's judicial bodies and their deputies are elected directly by the FIFA Congress and can only be deposed from their offices by the FIFA Congress. The term of office is four years, members can however be re-elected. Chairmen and deputy chairmen of both chambers have to be qualified to practice law and the individual members of the two chambers should be put together in order to ensure an overall high degree of qualifications with regard to their task. In addition, the members of the Ethics Committee should also represent the respective FIFA member associations in an appropriate way.
The members of FIFA's judicial bodies must not serve as members of the Executive Committee or any other of FIFA's standing committees.
Both, chairmen and deputy chairmen of the two chambers of the Ethics Committee as well as the chairman of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee have to fulfill the independence criteria set up in the Standing Orders of the Congress.
To ensure that the independence criteria are met by the respective committee members, annual reviews of the incumbent chairmen and deputy chairmen as well as candidates for chairmen and deputy chairmen of the Ethics Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee are mandatory. Reviews must be conducted by another committee. Therefore, the Ethics Committee's members are being reviewed by the Audit and Compliance Committee, which in turn is being reviewed by the Investigatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee.
In addition, the Ethics Committee conducts the integrity checks for the following FIFA offices: FIFA President, all members of the Executive Committee, chairman, deputy chairman and members of the Audit and Compliance Committee, and all chairmen, deputy chairmen and members of FIFA's judicial bodies, with the obvious exception of the Ethics Committee itself, which is checked by the Audit and Compliance Committee. No FIFA committee is allowed to review or check its own members.
Since 1998, FIFA has implemented an increasing number of rules and regulations intended to modernize and improve the accountability and transparency of its governance processes. In the wake of accusations of bribery of referees in 2006, FIFA decided to create an Ethics Committee, with the aim of investigating allegations of corruption in football. In the beginning, the Ethics Committee was first headed by Sebastian Coe, and between 2010 and 2012 by the former Swiss football player and attorney at law Claudio Sulser.
However, it was not until 2011 that Mark Pieth, a criminal law professor at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and head of the so-called FIFA Independent Governance Committee (IGC), started to assess the FIFA-structures. Pieth subsequently published a report with suggestions for an indepth reform of the Ethics Committee in order to establish a modernized body for FIFA-internal investigations and jurisdiction. The ICG was constituted as an external advisory board for FIFA by the Executive Committee on 17 December 2011. It had a mandate until the end of 2013.
In the beginning, the IGC-report received substantial criticism, including from within the IGC itself. Sylvia Schenk, sports adviser of Transparency International (TI), criticized that Pieth received payments from FIFA for his work. Schenk refrained from becoming a member of IGC. Roger A. Pielke, Jr., who also authored an publication on the accountability of FIFA, stated in his blog The Least Thing that Pieth, or his Basel-based Institute of Governance, had received USD 128,000 for his work and could therefore not be regarded as acting independent. Pieth, however, replied that it is best practice for any organization to remunerate audit reports, because "we can't start asking audit firms to do their job for free just to make sure they are independent."
Much controversy also erupted around the question whether the IGC should be allowed to take a stance on earlier cases of potential corruption. Meanwhile, this issue has been codified in the 2012 FIFA Code of Ethics. The Ethics Committee’s Investigatory Chamber has the right to investigate into previous allegations of bribery.
Following suggestions of the IGC's first report in 2012, the FIFA Executive Committee decided to establish two independent entities, the Investigatory Chamber and the Adjudicatory Chamber, headed by experienced and independent legal professionals. The Ethics Committee is allowed to investigate present as well as previous allegations.
In 2016, committee member Juan Pedro Damiani was being subjected to an internal investigation over the legal assistance he had provided as a lawyer to Eugenio Figueredo, a football official who had been charged by US authorities with wire fraud and money laundering, as part of the 2015 FIFA corruption case. After a preliminary investigation was opened by the Ethics Committee's Investigatory Chamber, Damiani resigned from the Ethics Committee on 6 April 2016.
Football officials banned by FIFA Ethics Committee include