- Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014

ZURICH (AP) - When the FIFA presidential election campaigns get going, the governing body’s financial watchdog will be keeping a close eye on everyone.

No more $1 million grants, like the one Sepp Blatter handed over to the CONCACAF regional body last time, will go by without provoking an ethics investigation.

“That would not work anymore,” Domenico Scala told The Associated Press in an interview.

Scala, speaking ahead of the publishing of FIFA’s annual financial report on Friday, was appointed in 2012 to lead a modernized audit panel ordered by Blatter after wide-ranging scandals tainted World Cup hosting votes and the president’s own re-election.

Scala also cautioned against candidates promising money to confederations and national federations without approval from the FIFA development committee, which allocates spending.

A bitterly fought election in 2011 saw escalating payments and promises from FIFA reserves, which was announced Friday as $1.432 billion.

Scala said such giveaways of FIFA money “will not be possible” before the May 2015 vote.

Last time, FIFA gave $144.4 million in “extraordinary payments” from 2010 World Cup profits - $550,000 to each country and $5 million to each continent - which Blatter described as “a gift to our shareholders.”

Blatter’s election rival, Mohamed bin Hammam, pledged to double annual grants and project funding before he withdrew when implicated in buying votes in the Caribbean.

Bin Hammam was accused of offering $1 million - envelopes of $40,000 to each of 25 CONCACAF members - at a meeting in Trinidad one week after Blatter’s $1 million FIFA promise in Miami.

Blatter has said he will seek re-election if enough of FIFA’s 209 member countries ask him. Other potential candidates are UEFA President Michel Platini - deputy chairman of the development panel - and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne.

Scala said he would help decide a new FIFA president’s contract and salary but cannot change Blatter’s ongoing terms.

“It’s a very normal contract you would expect for a CEO,” said Scala, who was chief executive at dental firm Nobel Biocare Holding AG for four years until 2011.

Scala does the performance review of Blatter’s contract and, although reputation is one aspect, bad publicity at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil marred by street protests will not count against him.

“Public opinion might think it was a failure but economic data say the opposite,” said Scala, pointing to “never, ever better” TV ratings and ticket sales.

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