Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Transparency International on FIFA Reform: A New Report

Transparency International has released a new report ( "Safe Hands: Building Integrity and Transparency at FIFA" -- here in PDF) authored by Sylvia Schenk with some recommendations for how FIFA might reform itself.  The report calls for the creation of a new body, which it calls a "multi-stakeholder group" to help oversee reform and offers TI's expertise in the process.

The report makes a number of specific and useful recommendations, here are the top line suggestions (far more detail can be found in the report):
  • To limit the danger of bribery and corruption, FIFA should – under the guidance and scrutiny of the multi-stakeholder group – follow the principles set out in leading anti-bribery codes, such as the Business Principles for Countering Bribery.
  • FIFA should address the way it appoints officials.
  • FIFA should identify enhanced anti-bribery measures such as job rotation and involvement of independent external experts in assessed areas of high risk.
  • FIFA must ensure adherence to its code of conduct not only from its employees but also from FIFA officials, including delegates at the FIFA Congress (who usually come from national federations or confederations) and all other persons as far as they play a constitutive role and are paid in one way or another (for example by receiving travel expenses) by FIFA.
  • FIFA needs clear published guidelines for the initiation and execution of investigations.
  • FIFA officials and employees, volunteers, referees, players, players’ agents and others should commit to the code of ethics and be aware of the sanctions process.
  • FIFA, as well as its confederations and national federations using money allocated by FIFA, should report annually on anti-corruption policies and their implementation, as well as on any bribery allegations and the actions taken.
The report is strong on the details of reform, as might be expected from TI which has much experience in these matters, but offers little guidance on how to get from here to there. Motivating meaningful reform is mainly an issue of politics and accountability and presents a central obstacle to FIFA reform. This quandary is acknowledged in the report:
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. But unlike a multinational company, answerable to shareholders, FIFA’s mandate comes from the member federations represented by officials (i.e. presidents and delegates, mostly working on a voluntary basis) from all over the world, elected bottom up. This means that FIFA is answerable to the 208 national football associations who themselves are partly dependent on the funds that FIFA allocates to them. 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. Moreover, the scale and specific structure of FIFA makes it difficult to adapt what is considered best business practice to the governance challenges it is facing.
While it would be nice to imagine that FIFA will undertake meaningful reform on its own, I am not so optimistic. Much stronger mechanisms of accountability will necessarily have to accompany, if not precede, implementation of a reform agenda at FIFA.


Post a Comment