Tuesday, June 9, 2015

FIFA Presidents and Platforms: The Smorgasbord Option

At the BBC Richard Conway reports that FIFA is looking to schedule its "Extraordinary Congress" to elect the successor to Sepp Blatter later this year, on December 16 in Zurich. Conway reports:
A final decision on the date for a presidential election is not expected to be made until July, but it is believed holding an emergency congress in mid-December is Blatter's preferred option.

That would give him just six months to devise and implement the reforms he has promised before leaving the organisation he has been a part of for more than 40 years.
The FIFA plan seems procedurally problematic. Any agenda of reform will (it seems) have to be voted on by the FIFA Congress. But this is the same Congress who will be voting on a new president who may or may not share the same reform agenda. Unless Sepp Blatter intends to put himself forward as a candidate (don't laugh) it makes no sense for there to be a "Blatter Reform Agenda."

Will the FIFA Congress first vote on Blatter's reforms and then after that vote for the next FIFA president to implement them? Or vice versa? Neither makes much sense.

Here is a better idea.

Over the next months, FIFA might put together a smorgasbord of possible reform proposals. This won't be difficult as there are lots of experts and groups willing to help, like Transparency International, and the reforms FIFA needs are not exactly rocket science. With a finite list of clear options for reforming the organization, perhaps in place within 3 months, the candidates to succeed Blatter would then be in a position to announce which of the reform options are part of their platform to serve as the next FIFA president, and which reform proposals that they reject.

Then, when the election occurs the FIFA Congress and others will be able to clearly associate each candidate with a specific reform agenda. With candidates working from a centralized set of proposals there will be much less opportunity for gaming the reform agenda. Candidates could of course ignore such a smorgasbord of options for reform, but that would certainly call into question their commitment to reforming the organization.

Putting forward a "Blatter Agenda" seems unwise and a recipe for further problems. At the same time, if Blatter is actually sincere about reforming the organization, he could easily and visibly lay out a set of options for reform as building blocks that would allow his potential successors to clearly articulate their platform for leading FIFA into the future.


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