Saturday, March 16, 2013

For FIFA "Independence" Means Staying Silent

In an interview with Osasu Obayiuwana at Inside World Football, FIFA president Sepp Blatter explains that he has secured a promise from Mark Pieth to remain silent on FIFA's reform process unless given permission to speak from Blatter himself:
Blatter told InsideWorldFootball, in an exclusive interview, in Marrakech, Morocco, that he had recently spoken with Pieth and asked that he make no further public comments on the process.

"Yes I am surprised with his (Pieth's) reaction. I spoke with him [on Friday]."

"He was asked to make proposals. He was designated by me, and confirmed by the [FIFA] executive committee, to be the chair of what we described, at the time, as the committee for solutions.

"He is to propose solutions. But he thought, or the people around him thought, that all of the solutions that they propose have to be implemented. This is not possible.

"We have to look at them, we have to discuss them and then we will see what will be accepted, or not, by the congress.

"If he is to make criticisms, I have told him that he should not go public, because he is a part of the reform process.

"If everybody in the reform process goes public and says that they are not happy with this and that, there will be a lot of confusion. We have to avoid that.

"He has now accepted that he would not go public [with his complaints], unless I tell him that he can go public," Blatter told this reporter.
Blatter's comments reveal, once again, that FIFA does not really understand the concept of "independence" or the difference between advice and decision making. FIFA's reputation would enhanced by open debate and discussion, even public disagreement. Enforced silence doesn't really build confidence, risks Pieth seeing his legacy as reform committee chair being reduced to FIFA lap dog.

It doesn't have to be this way. Pieth's criticism of FIFA's commitment to reform has been growing increasingly strong. I wrote last month that Pieth's apparent distancing himself from the FIFA reform effort was sure to come under increasing pressure and deserved broad support:
If Pieth does indeed split from FIFA it could be huge, as he knows a lot and carries much credibility -- credibility that he has placed at serious risk by taking on the FIFA role. With the FIFA reform process all but over, Pieth is no doubt looking to how his efforts will be received by the broader community, which is yet to be determined. Pieth's assertion of independence deserves support as it cannot be easy.
Sepp Blatter should encourage his "independent" reform committee to speak out, to voice their opinions. An enforced silence serves no one -- not FIFA, an certainly not Mark Pieth.


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