FIFA Officials Donate Gifted Watches to Charity
Last year, the Brazilian Football Association gifted World Cup officials Parmigiani watches worth more than $24,000 each. Now, after ordering officials to return the watches, the FIFA ethics committee will donate them to charity.
According to The Guardian, the Brazilian Football Association gave FIFA officials 65 watches during a FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo. The FIFA ethics committee told recipients that it would not open formal proceedings if they handed the watches over, and the watches were returned and donated to the global nonprofit streetfootballworld, which drives social change through soccer.
FIFA's ethics committee said that accepting gifts of that value violated its rules. Some FIFA officials argued that they did not know how much the watches were worth, and that they didn't even notice them in the gift bag until days later.
"I found that watch in a bag that was placed in our room," Michel D'Hooghe, a FIFA executive committee member, told The Guardian last year. "It's only after one week that I opened it, I saw there was a watch with a plastic bracelet and the mark 'Parmigiano' (sic)."
He added that FIFA executives receive watches regularly as a classic present in soccer.
"It was the fourth watch I've had since I started doing this job," Greg Dyke, chairman of the British Football Association, said. "Everywhere you go you get those watches. I wouldn't know a [$24,000] watch if my life depended on it. No one should give you a [$24,000] watch without telling you what it's worth."
According to FIFA's code of ethics, officials should not accept gifts more than "symbolic or trivial value," and that "if in doubt, gifts shall not be offered or accepted." It further indicates that ignorance does not excuse recipients from penalty.