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Hold FIFA to Account? The FA could wear the Armband

Written by Philip Jones on Thursday, 14 May 2015

We need a new era in football – one without corruption and with increased transparency in the beautiful game. The public expect nothing less.


Much has been made of corruption within football’s governing body FIFA recently.  According to a public opinion poll carried out in November 2014 by Opinium, only 12 of the British public believed that FIFA was at least somewhat trustworthy while 31 per cent of respondents believed it to be “not at all trustworthy”. This is not surprising when one takes count of the questions raised in relation to the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups held in Russia and Qatar respectively, coupled with FIFA’s refusal to publicly release the complete findings of Michael Garcia’s investigation into the awarding of the tournaments.

FIFA’s (in)action led to Garcia’s resignation in December and Football Association (FA) Chairman Greg Dyke slamming FIFA’s processes as “a bit of a joke” stating that he did not believe FIFA to be a “straight organisation” that hadn’t been “for many years”.   It even led ex-FA Chairman David Bernstein to claim that football’s credibility was “suffering enormously” under the current setup. Only 2 per cent of the British public disagreed.  In addition 80 percent of the British public believed the FA should take the lead in holding FIFA to account in Europe.

This brings us to a different problem. Just prior to the 2014 Brazil World Cup the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF) dropped off goodie-bags to 65 football representatives’ hotel rooms with luxury Parmigiani £16000 watches inside, a breach of FIFA’s Code of Ethics.  After finding out about the watches, FIFA demanded officials return them to its Investigatory Chamber by 24 October 2014 in order for them to be donated to “an independent non-profit organization or organizations committed to corporate social responsibility projects in Brazil” or face disciplinary action.

Football officials may not offer or accept gifts that have more than “symbolic or trivial value.” FCE Art. 20(1)(a). “If in doubt gifts shall not be offered or accepted.” FCE Art. 20(2). Football officials “are expected to be aware of the importance of their duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities,” FCE Art. 13(1) and must “immediately report any potential breach” to the Investigatory Chamber FCE Art. 18(1). FCE violations may be sanctioned regardless of whether they were “committed deliberately or negligently.” FCE Art. 5(2). – FIFA

It was not until 6 months after the stated deadline that all watches were accounted for which does not bode well for how officials take FIFA’s rules into account.

In the UK, I hope that the FA will lead by example and ensure that nobody is exempt from the rules, including those are the top or especially at FIFA itself.

We need a new era in football – one without corruption and with increased transparency in the beautiful game. The public expect nothing less.


To follow Transparency International’s work on corruption in sport, access the webpage here and hashtag #sportintegrity on Twitter


Read 1953 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:07

Philip Jones

Philip is TI-UK's Communications Officer. You can follow him on Twitter at @PBentleyJones

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