FIFA exhorted to allow public figures to lead reform after scandals
The global anti-corruption watchdog published its challenge - ''Give Back the Game - How to Fix FIFA'' - on Thursday, ahead of an executive committee meeting next week where President Sepp Blatter plans to start pushing through reforms in his final months in office.
GENEVA – FIFA should let ”eminent public figures” lead truly independent reform of the scandal-hit governing body, according to Transparency International.
The global anti-corruption watchdog published its challenge – ”Give Back the Game – How to Fix FIFA” – on Thursday, ahead of an executive committee meeting next week where President Sepp Blatter plans to start pushing through reforms in his final months in office. It followed former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan being named this week by a senior Netherlands football federation official as the type of leader FIFA needs to restore credibility.
Transparency International, which worked with FIFA in 2011 during previous Blatter-led reforms that fell short of expectations, did not suggest individuals in a 4-page document proposing changes to clean up how FIFA is run. ”FIFA is a flawed democracy that needs to be fixed urgently,” the Germany-based organization said. ”FIFA needs a truly independent reform commission led by eminent public figures to oversee reform.”
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Four years ago, Blatter suggested Henry Kissinger could help rebuild trust in FIFA after the controversial 2018-2022 World Cup bidding contests and his own presidential re-election tainted by a bribery scandal which removed his opponent.
Instead, FIFA appointed an advisory panel led by Swiss law professor Mark Pieth, a former U.N. investigator, and then ignored some key recommendations at the end of a two-year process. Pieth called for time limits on senior FIFA positions, independent directors for the executive committee, tougher internal monitoring and for FIFA salaries to be published.
FIFA and Blatter are now in crisis again, targeted by American and Swiss federal investigations of alleged racketeering, bribery and money laundering, forcing the 79-year-old president to announce his resignation plans last month. On Monday, Blatter’s executive committee meets in Zurich to set a date for FIFA’s 209 member federations to elect his successor. FIFA vice president Michel Platini, a former Blatter protege who leads European governing body UEFA, is the current favorite.
FIFA election rules require a four-month campaign after a deadline to nominate candidates who must have been active in football for two of the past five years. That recently passed rule bars a ”Kofi Annan-type” that FIFA needs, Dutch federation director Bert van Oostveen told state broadcaster NOS this week. ”Because if you don’t change the system, then everything will stay as it is.” Van Oostveen said.
Annan, a 77-year-old from Ghana, was the top U.N. official for 10 years through 2006, and has also attended two showpiece UEFA events this year: The Youth League final in April at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland and the Champions League final in Berlin in June.
Blatter has said he wants to leave a changed FIFA for the next president, including passing term limits that would prevent anyone matching his own 17-plus years in office.
Transparency International suggested on Thursday that two four-year terms should be the maximum for presidents and executive committee members of all football bodies. Other proposals include appointing independent outsiders as members of the FIFA executive committee and chairman of the finance committee, and competitive bidding for all commercial contracts.
For FIFA and its 209 members plus six confederations, Transparency International wants independent integrity checks for all candidates for presidential and executive seats, publishing payments to senior officials and independent auditing of all income.