It is clear to all that corruption is endemic within FIFA. We are calling for real change in FIFA, with real reform, transparency and accountability. Strong governance and democracy should be at the heart of FIFA as the Governing Body of the best-loved sport in the world.
The reform needs to start from the top down. It’s time to give football back to the people.
As a member of New FIFA Now I call for greater transparency, democracy and accountability in the governance of football. I do not wish to see the involvement of politicians or governments in football but the principles that are found in good governance need to and should be transfered.
2015 was arguably the most turbulent year ever for FIFA, world football’s governing body.
We saw the organisation rocked to the core, and it appeared that nobody is safe, with the suspension for eight years from all football-related activity of President Sepp Blatter himself, as well as the man held by some as his most capable successor, two-time world footballer of the year and UEFA head, Michel Platini. And already this year FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has been dismissed.
Sadly, FIFA has been stuck in its ways for a long time and has missed many an opportunity to take on board recommendations made to it so that it can reform itself.
Superficial nods towards a reform process have been made in recognition of mounting public pressure to do so, leading to changes on the surface which have continued to protect those in the organisation who are in it for themselves.
Mark Pieth, who chaired a Blatter-inspired Independent Governance Committee in 2011 which led to the creation of a two-chamber ethics committee, says that was as far as the embattled President would go in changing the way that FIFA was working.
Term limits, integrity checks and transparency in executive pay did not prove popular to the incumbents.
If the Presidential elections are to lead to any meaningful change then these are exactly the sort of ideas that I hope the candidates will be thinking about.
While the position they are looking to fill has been one of great power in recent years, in fact they should be looking to generate ideas about how they will eventually curtail that power – an idea that before long can become an alien concept to a person that has had too much of it. And that is why reform must happen quickly and effectively.
The New FIFA Now campaign group, which I have been working with, has a number of good ideas for the reform process – helped by the fact that some of those I work with have first-hand experience of FIFA’s problems and helped draw them to the surface in the first place.
A key part of such a reform process could come in the shape of a FIFA Reform committee, which would call on governance experts to play a consultative role in advising FIFA how it can become more democratic, more transparent and accountable to the people who love the game.
Among the suggestions are greater diversity in terms of higher female representation in the organisation, and a broader inclusion of stakeholders in the running of the game.
I want the next FIFA President to flesh out these proposals, in particular to set out a plan for how to attract more high profile women into FIFA’s governance structure. For too long, FIFA has been led by the few at the top, for the few at the top, and the makeup of the organisation has failed to follow the general trend of increased female participation. The women’s game has come on leaps and bounds and the success of the World Cup in Canada last summer is evidence of that. We have five Presidential candidates and none are female; I think women have a major role to play in both the male and female games.
I also want to emphasise that it is the fans that make the game what it is. The FIFA Executive committee are not the owners of the sport, they are the custodians, in the same way that elected politicians make decisions on behalf of their constituents. The candidates would do well to think about governance in this way, and to include the fans by giving them voting rights at least to have a say as to who is elected as FIFA President, perhaps through supporters groups, so that they have a stake in the way the game is run.
Decisions made by FIFA need to reflect what the fans want to see to develop the sport, giving greater weight to the manifestos of the candidates rather than the back door deals done out of sight. Sadly, once again the failure of most of the candidates to engage in public debate and to let the fans hear what they have to say suggests to me that they are not serious about the role that supporters can and should play.
For too long the grassroots has been left out of the high level decision making in FIFA and I believe there needs to be a role for the fans in electing at least some of the members of the Executive Committee. That way the fans can buy-in to the process and feel like there are people within FIFA who are making decisions on behalf of them, not just in the interests of those at the top.
FIFA needs to deliver for the fans and I will continue to champion deep reform of FIFA until this is achieved.
To find out more www.newfifanow.org