Why Fifa’s credibility problem is all about transparency
What to do about Fifa’s credibility problem? If it’s not Qatar, then it’s street protests in Brazil.
We tried to talk to Sepp Blatter at his final World Cup readiness press conference in São Paolo – but he couldn’t get away quickly enough.
But he’s used to fending away the voices off – even though they’re getting louder every day.
From the UK, the Sunday Times investigation claiming corruption in the vote for the 2022 World Cup. In the USA, a former al-Qaeda investigator looking into the same. And in the Swiss parliament, an MP who wants to introduce new anti-corruption legislation that could open Fifa’s books like never before.
For Roland Buechel the matter is simple.
Fifa likes being based in Switzerland because it enjoys very loose governmental and financial oversight. And he says football’s governing body just isn’t up to the job.
“Fifa is a huge company but they are organised like a small yodelling association in a mountain village. They should be organised like a proper company.”
It is all about transparency.
Professor Mark Pieth agrees. He was commissioned by Fifa itself to advise them on reform. And ultimately, he says, Switzerland may need to make them change.
He told me he’s been trying get Switzerland to take its responsibility as “superviser” seriously – because it isn’t just Fifa’s reputation that’s at stake, but his country’s too.
Take the controversial tax breaks the World Cup organisers enjoy abroad – in Brazil’s case, a five-year exemption around the 2014 tournament that will divert up to $500m from host country to Fifa.
And back home in Switzerland, Fifa hides behind its status as a sports association, with tax privileges akin to a charity in the UK. If they don’t up their game, says Pieth, this has to change.
“Fifa has reserves of 1.3bn Swiss francs and is still a non profit – it’s difficult to understand how this works.”
And as for Fifa’s accountability, he puts it thus:
“It’s a similar situation to the Vatican. Who tells the Vatican what to do? And who tells Fifa what to do.”
Who tells them indeed?
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