Update, 26 May 2015: The results of the Transparency International / Forza Football poll are in! See the findings here
On 29 May 209 representatives from football federations around the world will gather in Zurich to vote for the next president of FIFA, world football’s governing body. Sepp Blatter, 79, the current president is hot favourite to win a fifth term and he now has only one opponent, Prince Ali Bin al Hussein.
Under his 17-year presidency FIFA’s revenues have quadrupled to US$5.7 billion in 2014, a World Cup year, and the organisation has more than US$1.5 billion in reserves, one reason why he is likely to win the election.
But should Blatter stay on? We believe FIFA needs a president that can inspire trust and commits to transparency and accountability. The numerous scandals at FIFA under Blatter’s watch have called the current administration’s ability to deliver on this into question.
We wanted to get a broader view from the people who support football so Transparency International teamed up with Football Addicts to poll fans in 29 countries via their Forza 90 iPhone app.
You can join in the poll here: www.footballaddicts.com/forza-90/. The results will be published on 26 May.
Here are ten things to consider when voting for the next FIFA President:
- For more than a decade FIFA used a Swiss court investigation into corruption allegations at former marketing company ISL to refuse to answer questions about bribery and corruption. In 2013, FIFA finally published a report confirming former president João Havelange and former executive committee member Ricardo Texeira had taken bribes.
- FIFA ran two World Cup hosting bids simultaneously (2018 and 2022) which allowed for collusion among bidders; then it misrepresented the investigation into the process, according to the report’s author.
- FIFA refused at first to publish the investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights.
- FIFA has only published a summary version after pressure from the author (who subsequently quit) and from public opinion.
- The full report into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 hosting rights has yet to be published.
- FIFA does not publish the pay for its senior executives or members of the executive committee. In 2014 it paid US$88.6 million to 474 employees – an average of US$186,900 per employee but no word on how much the top brass get.
- FIFA’s financial statements provide lump sums for its revenues, which hit $5.7 billion in 2014, a World Cup year, and expenditures, but little detail. It put aside reserves of $1.5 billion.
- FIFA insists host countries hand over a high proportion of revenues from the World Cup, tax-free. This is estimated to have cost Brazil US$250 million.
- There are no term limits on any of the members of its key committees, including the executive committee, the presidency and the finance committee, making cronyism a real risk.
- FIFA has no independent external non-executive directors on the executive committee, finance committee and major bodies. As many as 10 FIFA executive committee members and continental federation heads have been forced out because of corruption.
And finally… a costly crime against art
FIFA spent US$24 million on a feature film, United Passions, extolling its and Mr Blatter’s virtues. It was a box office and artistic bomb selling less than US$150,000 of tickets. Tim Roth played the hardworking hero, Sepp Blatter. US$24 million is around half of its projected spending in 2016 for the Goal development fund which supports football-related development projects in FIFA member countries.
For more on sport, go to Transparency International’s Corruption in Sport Initiative.
What the next head of FIFA should do in his first year
- Implement the full set of recommendations from the Independent Governance Committee which includes setting term and age limits and introducing independent non-executive directors (a Congress vote in 2014 rejected age and term limits).
- Publish the full investigative report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup decisions.
- Publish the pay of its top executives.
- Agree to independent due diligence in appointing senior executives at FIFA and in the Confederations
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