Regaining the beautiful game

The most widely played game with the biggest audiences, football is a powerful force around the world and it deserves a governing body that is free of corruption. Yet its ruling body, FIFA, is one of the world’s most discredited organisations. Allegations of corruption have plagued the organisation for decades.

On 25 September, the Public Ministry of the Swiss Confederation opened a judicial process against FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter for an alleged undue payment of around two million euros to the President of UEFA, Michel Platini. The payment made in 2011 was supposedly in compensation for work done between 1999 and 2002.

Blatter is also accused of having signed a contract contrary to the interest of FIFA with the Caribbean Football Union, presided by Jack Warner, ex-Vice President of FIFA and a close friend of Blatter.

The Ethics Committee of FIFA has suspended Blatter and Platini for 90 days as a temporary measure while the corruption allegations they are facing are being investigated. The 90 days suspensions have been extended to Worawi Makudi, President of the Federation of Thailand and ex-member of the executive committee of FIFA, and to the South Korean, Chung Mong Jon, ex-Vice President of FIFA.

The investigation being carried out in the US for previous corruption cases involving directors and collaborators of FIFA  ended up with the indictment of 14 football officials. The Swiss Government is conducting a separate investigation into the process of awarding the rights to host the world championships of 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar.

What has been the role of Transparency International?

TI has followed the FIFA story for more than five years, starting in 2010, by denouncing the lack of transparency of the FIFA executive committee when voting for Qatar and Russia. In 2011, TI criticised the FIFA presidential elections because of the bribery and counter bribery scandals that led to Bin Hamman dropping out of the contest and leaving Blatter standing unopposed.

TI’s constant message has called for a substantial reform of FIFA and for the need of independent oversight.

Recently, however, TI has concluded that FIFA cannot reform itself and needs an independent reform commission.

TI is now part of the NewFIFANow coalition that brings together the International Trades Union Confederation, Avaaz (the petition organisation), and activists including the UK member of Parliament, Damian Collins, and the head of a sportswear company, SKINS, Jaimie Fuller. This coalition is advocating that sponsors force FIFA to act now to end its corrupt practice. So far, the Coalition has been successful in bringing Visa, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Budweiser together to support that view.

TI is researching the 209 Football Associations that are members of FIFA to assess their public accountability, such as what they publish on their websites and how they are run. We expect this assessment will highlight the need for reform throughout.

Josephine Serrallach
Director

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