Thursday, April 26, 2012

FIFA Defines "Independent"

FIFA has released its proposed revisions to its statutes, for consideration in it upcoming Congress at the end of May. Among the proposed revisions is a definition of what it means to be "independent" from FIFA (here in PDF, at p. 52):
A candidate for the office of chairman or deputy chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee or of either of the two chambers of the Ethics Committee shall not be considered independent if, at any time during the four years preceding his term, he or any family member (spouse, children, stepchildren, parents, siblings, domestic partner, parents of spouse/domestic partner and siblings and children of domestic partner):
  • held any paid position or material contract (directly or indirectly) with FIFA and/or any Member, Confederation, League or Club (including any of their affiliated companies/organisations);
  • was employed by FIFA’s outside legal counsel or by FIFA’s auditor (and was engaged in auditing FIFA);
  • held any paid or voluntary position with a non-profit organisation to which FIFA and/or any Member, Confederation, League or Club makes annual payments in excess of USD 100,000.
The criteria of independence are strict and appropriate. However, interestingly, only the chairman or deputy chairman of the two relevant committees are required to be independent. Nothing is said about the members of these committees, suggesting that they do not have to be independent. This means that in practice a voting majority will not be independent.

Why did FIFA not require all members to be independent? This sets the stage for actual and perceived conflicts of interest in the actions of these two committees.

A further note -- under the proposed FIFA criteria of "independence" it is indeed the case that half or more members and the chair of the FIFA "Independent" Governance Committee fail to meet the criteria of independence.What this means is that it will be very difficult for this committee to say anything critical about this FIFA recommendation.


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