Independent group should oversee FIFA reform
Berlin, Dublin, 16 August 2011 – Transparency International (TI), the anti-corruption organisation, calls on world football's governing body, FIFA, to carry out comprehensive governance reforms overseen by a group composed of representatives from outside FIFA (including representatives from media and civil society) and inside football (including federations, clubs, professional leagues, players, women’s football, referees, supporters) in a way that ensures its independence.
The proposed group would watch over an independent investigation of existing corruption allegations and the introduction of new procedures to ensure transparency and good governance, such as term limits for senior positions and a conflict of interest policy, with a special focus on external figures in major decisions.
“FIFA says it wants to reform, but successive bribery scandals have left public trust in it at an all-time low. Working with an oversight group – taking its advice, giving it access, letting it participate in investigations – will show whether there is going to be real change,” said Sylvia Schenk, senior advisor on sport to TI.
TI's eight-page recommendation document, Safe Hands: Building integrity and transparency at FIFA, is based on years of experience providing tools for companies and institutions that want to become more transparent and less vulnerable to corruption.
A letter calling on footballing bodies to support the recommendations has been issued today to footballing associations including the Football Association of Ireland.
Reforms should have global backing
Because of the special nature of FIFA, meaningful reform requires everyone who has a stake in the game to join the debate and increase the pressure for reform, including supporters, bodies representing clubs and players, and the sponsors.
FIFA is both a non-governmental, non-profit organisation and a global company with huge turnover (US$ 1.29 billion revenue and US$ 1.09 billion expenses in 2010). With unprecedented reach, political clout and enormous worldwide social influence, FIFA answers to national football officials from 208 countries. So TI is also sending the recommendations to national football federations in countries where it has chapters, calling upon those federations to support reform.
“Leaders in the world of sport have a particular responsibility to behave with integrity, not just because sports like football face corruption challenges such as match-fixing, but because sport provides role models for people everywhere, especially young people,” said Schenk.
TI prepared the FIFA recommendations after bribery allegations and a lack of transparency marred FIFA’s presidential elections in June 2011, as it did the selection of the host nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in December 2010.
TI has called on FIFA to take similar steps before, but developed its advice after FIFA showed a new willingness to change: opening its books to TI experts, giving detailed information about its operations, and asking for advice on anti-corruption policies. This has allowed TI to provide detailed recommendations on governance issues targeted to the highest echelons of FIFA.
“When an organisation says it wants to change, TI stands ready to provide constructive advice. Now that we have laid out clear, straightforward steps, it’s up to FIFA to prove its commitment to transparency and accountability,” said Schenk.
TI’s recommendations reflect good practice in the business world, and are drawn from existing documents such as TI's Business Principles for Countering Bribery and reporting guidance drawn from the section of the United Nations Global Compact related to fighting corruption.
Letter sent to Mr Paddy McCaul President of the FAI: https://transparency.ie/sites/default/files/11.04.FAI_.FIFAReforms.pdf
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