Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ten ways to change FIFA

Now the whole world outside Russia and Qatar agrees that FIFA is bent and not fit for purpose, what do we do about it?

Former England internation
FIFA.al Viv Anderson was one of a number of voices this weekend to advocate withdrawal from FIFA and the establishment of a rival organisation. The Football Association did leave FIFA before, from 1928 until 1946 over a dispute over paying amateurs, of all things. And England missed three golden opportunities to win the World Cup.

The alternative to establishing a rival organisation is to reform FIFA from within, increasing domestic representation (only seven Englishmen work in
FIFA's 34 committees at present), and urging a purging of the endemic corruption.

This will take time and hard work. But in a perfect world, I wish the following would happen tomorrow to the World Cup decision procedure:

1. Suspend Jack Warner, Issa Hayatou, Ricardo Texeira and Nicolas Leoz from the Executive Committee immediately and let an independent body investigate the serious allegations against them raised by Andrew Jennings, Espen Sandli & Togeir Korkfjord and the BBC. Suspend Julio Grondona until the Wall Street Journal's allegations are dealt with too. Allow this body to probe further allegations of corruption made by Mel Brennan, David Yallop and various media outlets. Sepp Blatter's anger at the "evil media" is an admission
of guilt.
2. End the practice of concealing FIFA demands on potential hosts' governments. No nation should be bullied, as the Netherlands were this time, into becoming a temporary tax haven for FIFA.

3. Open up the World Cup vote beyond the 22 men on the Ex.Co. There are 208 FIFA member nations and until 1983 all had a say.
4. Never again schedule two hosting votes simultaneously - the potential for collusion was just too great, as Spain/Portugal and Qatar duly proved.

5. Make the ballots open and require voters to explain their decision to the press. Ensure every voter receives the bid books - only three requested England's 2018 presentation!
6. End this obsession with 'legacy' and 'new lands'. Create guidelines for deci
ding on the host which stress football heritage, existing ability to host the tournament and financial potential. It is ludicrous that bidders are being punished for having the best stadia and infrastructure already in place and that FIFA's own technical and commercial criteria (the Evaluation Reports and the McKinsey study) were blatantly ignored by the Ex.Co. No more than one out every three World Cups should be on virgin soil, not the three out of four we have at present. The game's heartlands deserve the lion's share because that is where football is most supported.
7. Impose financial limits on bids as political parties have in UK constituency elections. Russia outspent Spain/Portugal three to one and Qatar's largesse was well-documented.
8. Adopt the strict IOC rules on Olympic bid lobbying - no voter may holiday in a bidding nation, be approached outside of bidding conventions or even have a drink bought for them by a bidding representative.
9. Make integrity a bidding factor. Countries guilty of human rights abuses, money laundering & organised crime and restrictions on press freedom should not be rew
arded with the world's biggest party.
10. Leave Switzerland for a more transparent country. FIFA should depart the land of secret bank accounts for somewhere which wants to engage with the world, preferably a small European Union nation like Belgium, Denmark or Luxembourg, where business and politics are more open and less shady. The whiff of corruption at FIFA H.Q. goes with the territory at present.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile 


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