It seems like I’m not the only one of the opinion that FIFA’s problems run deeper than Sepp Blatter as 69 per cent of fans polled in Transparency International’s recent research said they’ve lost all faith in FIFA. This clearly suggests that more severe matters of reforms need to be implemented.
Recently, the focus of media attention has almost exclusively centered around the events unfolding in Zurich. Therefore, the election vote represents a chance for football’s governing body to finally move on from the excess and scandal that defined Blatter’s 17-years reign as FIFA’s main man and create something new and, hopefully, rewarding. It’d be good to see FIFA finally live up to its motto: “For the Game. For the World.”
But the real question is whether the vote will actually catalyse true reform? Or should fans and spectators steel themselves to simply meet the new boss, same as the old boss? We probably won’t have any answer for years.
The issue with a simple election is that it doesn’t set out to change much. FIFA requires much more than a change of leader – its governance structure needs to be fundamentally reformed. It’s easy to blame Blatter for all the wrongdoings but it’s the unaccountable framework that FIFA operates in that has enabled him and his allies to thrive.
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While companies are accountable to shareholders, FIFA is accountable only to its member’s associates, whose own governance structures are variable in quality, to put things mildly. As a result, the lack of oversight have created conditions ideal for wrongdoings to flourish.
FIFA needs wide ranging cultural reform – from the inside, out. I want to see the camera lenses firmly fixed on the events unfolding on the pitch rather than the events in Zurich boardrooms. My new company, Axis Stars, aims to promote transparency and democracy within the profession and give professional athletes a protected ecosystem to undertake contracts and provide sound financial advice. I would hope that this pursuit for transparency, driven by the players of the profession, transcends to those governing it.
My main concern is that the reform proposed will not reform FIFA. It may be a start but the fact that they are so obviously a package of easy pickings, compromises, concession and missed opportunities is further evidence, as if any more were needed, that FIFA is not capable of reforming itself.
And although the proposed stakeholder committee is a good idea in theory, without any real power, I doubt they will be able to take any action, as and when needed. So basically, we’re back at square one again.
Instead, what FIFA needs is an external reform commission led by a wholly independent person. There are so many vested interests within FIFA, and the “FIFA way” of doing business has such a broad, deep reach that real reform will only happen if rigorous requirements are developed and universally implemented. That also needs to be accompanied by significant cultural change and education.
To do this, FIFA requires a game-changer in the way it conducts its business. It also requires a game-changer by way of the person who leads FIFA through that change. Cultural change of an organisation is a monumental task, but with a few strong trustworthy figureheads, hopefully this process can get underway.
Former Manchester United footballer Louis Saha also launched his own social media-based startup. But, unlike Sportlobster, which is backed by Michael Owen, or Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville’s Hotel Football, this one’s not for fans. He intends to protect sportsmen from scammers.
Louis Saha is the founder of Axis Stars.
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