Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FIFA IGC Plays Good Cop, Bad Cop?

Michael Hershman, member of FIFA's Independent Governance Committee, has given an interview to Play the Game, in which he gives a largely positive assessment of the progress being mae by the FIFA reform effort.  PTG writes:
Hershman, a corporate and governmental compliance expert with the Fairfax Group, told Play the Game that the signs so far have been encouraging since they outlined recommendations earlier this year: “There have been some major changes made in the governance procedures at FIFA, including the appointment of independent heads of the ethics committee and investigatory chamber,” he explains. “This is the first time I am aware of in the history of FIFA that independent parties have been brought in to head up such critical functions.”
Hershman cautions, as has the IGC more generally, that past corruption allegations have not been sufficiently investigated by FIFA, but is confident they will accept the recommendation to limit the terms of members of the executive committee, as well as of the President himself. With the new system of selecting World Cup hosts, which will involve every member nation rather than just those represented on the executive committee, Hershman believes “we will see a greater level of confidence in the future when these host countries are selected.”
Not long ago I interviewed Hershman here, and he made similar comments.

Hershman's largely positive comments contrast markedly with the more cynical and resigned comments made by Mark Pieth, IGC chair, at the EASM conference in Denmark in September. At the time I wrote:
Pieth repeatedly defended his role on the IGC, explaining that if you know anything about the challenges of politics, things are "five times worse" inside FIFA, with many interests and coalitions working to block reforms. He said that his experience in pressing for reforms has been that, "at some point there is a wall, and they tell me to go away."
Not it could be the case that Pieth and Hershman are playing a sophisticated game of good cop, bad cop with FIFA. When I interviewed Hershman he even suggested that Pieth's approach at EASM was part of a strategy of keeping pressure on FIFA. Maybe. On the other hand, if the Fairfax Group gets a big FIFA contract sometime after the IGC disbands, then we will know that there was another game going on. The IGC remains a curiosity.


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