Fifa scandal: football is first victim

Written by Anne Brasseur on 8 June 2015 in Opinion
Opinion

Recent controversy shows Fifa must change completely, writes Anne Brasseur.

Following the arrests of seven high-level Fifa officials last week in Zurich and the resignation of its president Sepp Blatter, the world football association has once again been hit by an unspeakable scandal.

Given the many criticisms that for years have been directed towards the organisation's decision-making and governing system, this news has hardly come as a surprise.

The system is one that is characterised by a high concentration power and - dare I say it - feudalism, without anything in place to slow down or counterbalance it. 


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Although its internal control mechanisms have recently improved, they still haven't torn down the organisation's cloud of secrecy, offering those at fault an easy way out; meanwhile, those at the very top of Fifa's hierarchy have no one to answer to but themselves.

Recent events surrounding investigations into the legality of Russia and Qatar's successful world cup bids have shown that the reform of Fifa's ethics commission has not brought about the changes needed. It is time to act. 

Whatever the outcome of the investigation, Fifa must continue to reform its governance. It needs to have the courage to see this through, and it must act quickly so as to protect football - the main victim of all these scandals.

Since 2012, the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly has called for these reforms to be sped up, and for binding measures to be implemented that would ensure a transparent decision-making process. Fifa handles billions of euros - it cannot function as a non-profit organisation.

We have recommended to Fifa that it separate its regulatory and commercial functions and establish a subsidiary company to deal with commercial issues. 

We have also requested that all commercial contracts - TV rights, marketing, ticket sales and sponsors - be submitted to tender procedures consistent with the highest standard of rules.

There need to be more specific rules so as to prevent, detect and firmly sanction any financial misconduct. 

There also needs to be a change in company culture and an end to the monopolisation of power. This is why we have asked for a time limit to be imposed on mandates.

Just to be clear - our assembly cannot arbitrate in this situation. According to the division of powers, this is up to the judicial system. 

However, we can judge the system - it is our duty as guardians of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

We must ensure that football - and sport in general - does not become a no man's land.

We need a reformed Fifa that is able to work with the Council to defend sports ethics and promote human rights all over the world, starting in Qatar. 

 

About the author

Anne Brasseur is president of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly

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