Expensive watches given to soccer officials at the pre-World Cup congress will need to be returned, the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee said in a statement on Thursday.
The Brazilian soccer federation (CBF) said it handed out 65 gift bags containing the watches to members of the FIFA Executive Committee, a representative from all 32 teams that qualified for the World Cup and other South American soccer officials.
CBF said it acquired the watches for $8,750 but an investigation by the chamber determined the watches had a value of more than $26,600.
From the statement:
The FCE plainly prohibits such gifts. Football officials may not offer or accept gifts that have more than "symbolic or trivial value."
Accordingly, CBF should not have offered the watches, and those who received gift bags should have promptly checked whether the items inside were appropriate and, upon discovering the watch, either returned it or, like the football officials referred to above, reported the matter to the Investigatory Chamber.
The investigatory chamber said it will forego further ethics proceedings if officials return the watches by October 24. The watches will then be donated to "an independent non-profit organization or organizations committed to corporate social responsibility projects in Brazil," according to the statement.
- Chris Johnson