“Watchgate”- can sports officials be bribed without knowing it?

Greg Dyke at 2014 World Cup
Thursday, 25 September 2014 By Neil Swift

The Guardian reported on Friday1  that Greg Dyke, Chairman of the FA, received a limited edition Parmigiani watch, worth £16,344, from the Brazilian FA during a FIFA congress in Sao Paulo prior to the World Cup.

Section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010 outlaws the receipt of bribes. It applies to British citizens wherever they are in the world. The Act sets out a number of ways in which the offence can be committed2, but central to all is the concept of performing a relevant function improperly. Relevant functions include those of a public nature, activities connected with a business, performed in the course of a person’s employment or on behalf of a body of persons3. Because of Mr Dyke's role and The FA's remit he probably ticks most if not all of those boxes. Someone carries out one of those functions improperly if they breach the standard expected of them by the archetypal reasonable man on a UK street4.

So, by accepting a 'goodie bag', would an English football official have committed a criminal offence inadvertently?

To commit the offence you must request, agree to receive or accept a financial or other advantage. If you do so as a reward for you or another acting improperly, or intending that you will act improperly, or if, given your position, the mere acceptance would amount to breach of the standards expected of you (to act in good faith, to act impartially, or to act in a position of trust), then you commit an offence.

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About the Author

Neil Swift

Neil Swift

Neil Swift is a Partner in the business crime department at Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP. He qualified in 1999 and became a Partner in 2010.  He has a broad range of experience in the fraud area, advising individual and corporate clients in relation to investigations and prosecutions by all major law enforcement bodies, including in particular the Serious Fraud Office, HM Revenue & Customs, and the Office of Fair Trading (now Competition and Markets Authority).
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