SII Focus 10th September 2015

FIFA issues eight-point reform plan

Domenico Scala, Chairman of FIFA’s independent Audit & Compliance Committee, has issued an eight-point reform plan, submitted to the FIFA Executive Committee in a 25-page report, available below. The report expands on eight basic areas where reform is thought to be needed. These are enhanced and centralised integrity checks for Executive Committee members; introduction of term limits of 12 years; direct election of the FIFA Executive Committee by the FIFA Congress; disclosure of remuneration of the FIFA President and other Executive Committee members; increased efficiency and independence of FIFA’s 27 standing committees; higher standards of governance and confederation and national association level; revised World Cup bidding rules and procedures (already approved); and improvements to FIFA’s organisation, including the splitting of the Executive Committee into a Governing Body and a Management Board.

FIFA said that the reforms were necessary ‘from the legal and economic risks FIFA is exposed to’, and that the greatest risk for FIFA ‘is the present institutional position and structure of the FIFA Executive Committee and the conduct of some of its members’. It said that the best way to mitigate this risk was to impose ‘a strict separation of roles (members of the FIFA Executive Committee cannot at the same time hold executive positions in confederations or national associations)’. However, it said that this was ‘almost impossible’ to do due to the ‘specific peculiarities’ of sports organisation. The report did not explain what these peculiarities are. ‘Consequently, FIFA and members of the FIFA Executive Committee have to be better protected by other means’, it read.

One of the reforms suggested by FIFA was that the direct election of the FIFA Executive Committee by the 209 member associations at the FIFA Congress. The FIFA Executive Committee is currently determined by the six FIFA confederations. The confederations are not considered FIFA members, however despite this, FIFA can be held ‘vicariously liable’ under Swiss law for the behaviour of its Executive Committee members, even though they have not been elected by FIFA. If FIFA is to be liable under the law for the action of its Executive Committee members, it would rather they were elected directly – the theory is that this will make them more accountable.

However, FIFA Presidential votes have the potential to be influenced through national interests, as votes are likely to be influenced by how much money has been invested in – or promised to – each national association. FIFA’s insistence on a secret ballot for Presidential elections increases suspicion that this process is subject to corruption. Implementing the same process for the election of members of the Executive Committee – as has already been done for the election of the World Cup host – could lead to further allegations that voting is taking place based on promises of investment at a national level, rather than what is best for the world game. As pointed out by the Sports Integrity Initiative earlier this week, it appears that money from FIFA’s GOAL development programme sometimes does not reach its intended source.

Reforms already implemented by FIFA mean that Congress already elects the ‘independent’ Ethics Committee, which is funded by FIFA. As well as this, Congress will now be responsible for electing the World Cup host, FIFA President and the Executive Committee, all under secret ballot.

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