More change needed at FIFA says corruption body
FIFA should limit terms for senior officials, set up an independent group to clear up anti-corruption...
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FIFA should limit terms for senior officials, set up an independent group to
clear up anti-corruption allegations and "embrace transparency,"
corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) said on Tuesday.
TI said that, despite recent measures, world
soccer's governing body still gave the impression of being run "like an
old boys' network."
FIFA reacted swiftly to TI's findings,
issuing a statement which said: "The FIFA President already publicly
stated in October 2010 that FIFA would show zero tolerance towards any form of
corruption in football.
"While FIFA acknowledges that work
remains to be done, it is convinced that the measures which have been
implemented and the direction which has been taken will help to further
strengthen FIFA's governance in cooperation with the FIFA Executive Committee,
the member associations, the confederations and other FIFA stakeholders."
TI, however, said a great deal remained to be
done at FIFA and urged that a new anti-corruption group should be composed of
representatives from outside FIFA, such as elder statesmen, sponsors, media and
civil society, and from inside football, such as players, those involved in
women's football, referees and supporters.
"FIFA says it wants to reform, but
successive bribery scandals have left public trust in it at an all-time
low," said Sylvia Schenk, TI's senior advisor on sport.
"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. The process has to start
Sepp Blatter, FIFA's 75-year-old president
re-elected for a fourth term in June, promised to create a new committee to act
as a watchdog, mentioning former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and
Spanish tenor Placido Domingo as possible members.
He has yet to announce further details.
In its report, the Berlin-based watchdog,
which issues a global league table of the least corrupt nations, said:
"FIFA is both a non-governmental, non-profit organisation and a global
company with huge revenues, unprecedented reach, political clout and enormous
worldwide social influence."
However, it said FIFA was accountable only
to its 208 member associations who elected the FIFA president and, in turn,
received handouts from soccer's governing body.
"This lack of mandatory accountability
to the outside world makes it unlikely that change will come either from within
the organisation or from the grassroots of the football organisations,"
the report added.
FIFA has been hit by a series of corruption
scandals in the last year.
Two executive committee members were banned
last November for allegedly offering to sell their votes in the contest to host
the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, subsequently awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.
Last month, Asian Football Confederation
chief Mohammed Bin Hammam was banned for life for allegedly trying to buy votes
in the June presidential election where he was a candidate.
Fellow executive committee member Jack
Warner, a leading FIFA powerbroker, quit after being put under investigation in
the same case.
All decisions were taken by FIFA's ethics
committee but TI said this did not go far enough.
"The lack of a fully transparent
investigation leaves the root of the problem untouched," it said.
"Similar scandals have hit FIFA before,
and without a comprehensive process that deals with all allegations from the
past, with consequences for anyone who has behaved unethically...and/or given
or requested bribes, the scandals are likely to recur."
It said the ethics committee hearing took
place behind closed doors and added: "The members of the ethics committee
are appointed by FIFA's executive committee, raising doubts about their
independence, and not all allegations discussed in the public have yet been
TI said FIFA needed to do more to improve its
reporting and accounting standards.
"The officials leading world football
still give the impression of operating as an 'old boy's network'.
"With only three presidents since 1961
and the current president in his fourth term, FIFA does not match standards for
rotation of top positions set by businesses or by other large
Positions on the executive and finance
committee, currently unlimited, should be limited to two terms.
Listing a number of suggested improvements,
TI said: "A new era for FIFA requires a review of its internal governance
and the introduction of transparency and accountability into its
decision-making processes and operations.
"This is a critical step that FIFA must
take if it is to become a sustainable, accountable and transparent
The report concluded: "Throughout its
history, the workings of football's governing body have been opaque. However,
people across the world, in all walks of life, are calling for an end to
'business as usual' and demanding accountability from those in power.
"If FIFA wants to rebuild trust it must
"Football's governing body must be an
example of the fair play that it promotes on the pitch."
In its defence FIFA said it had read and
welcomed the report, adding: "The FIFA President...insists that especially
after the FIFA Congress on 1 June 2011 FIFA remains committed to the task of
continuing to improve its organisation, with a strong focus on increasing
transparency and acting with zero tolerance against any form of
It continued: "FIFA is pleased to note
that several of the best practices and recommendations made by the TI report
are already being implemented by FIFA, and that others have been approved by
the 2011 FIFA Congress for their implementation in the coming months."
FIFA said it was a transparent organisation,
publishing all its regulations, circular letters to members and principal
decisions on its websites and in other publications.