No sufficient change in FIFA without new leadership

Lord Triesman and Champagne at EASM 2012.


By Stine Alvad
The organisational culture of FIFA is so deep-rooted, that a complete change of leadership is needed before we can expect any change, Lord Triesman said at the EASM 2012 conference, where Jérôme Champagne called for more equality in world football.

The organisational culture of FIFA is so deep-rooted, that a complete change of leadership is needed before we can expect any change, Lord Triesman said at the EASM 2012 conference, where Jérôme Champagne called for more equality in world football.

In the opening session of the EASM 2012 conference, Denmark, Lord David Triesman, former head of the FA and present member of the British House of Lords expressed little hope of seeing quick and efficient FIFA reforms. 

The organisation’s history and present culture stand in the way of real change, he said at the European Association for Sport Management conference taking place in Aalborg.

“Generally speaking, trying to change the processes and procedures in an organisation is not necessarily that hard to do, but if the culture doesn’t change, all of these changes of processes will fail,” Lord Triesman said, liking organisational change to a boxing match:

“If you had a boxing match between processes and culture, culture will win by a knock-out in the first round of every match. It will always decisively win.”

Current leadership has to change
According to the former head of the English bid committee for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, three things have to happen in order to change organisational culture; the political top has to be reformed, there must be strict appliance to the rule of law, and all aspects of governance must be accountable.

“FIFA stands incapable of that kind culture change and for that reason I believe the current leadership will have to go before those changes are made”.

Five points of reform
Lord Triesman was joined by former FIFA International Director Jérôme Champagne, who agreed that football is in need of change in different areas and listed several points where reform processes should be set into action before the ideal football governing body exists.

First of all a democratisation of the organisational structure should be initiated. The elected president should have the authority and backing to start the reforms he has been elected to do.

“If we want a democratic structure, we need a structure where the federations will elect the president, will elect the government, and this government will be responsible for implementing the policies they have been elected for.”

Football should reflect world balance
Champagne’s second point concerns the balance of powers in the world, which he thinks should also be reflected in the world of football.

“Most of the structures we have today are inherited from the way the world was before the World War II,” Champagne said, giving the way the seats on the executive committee are distributed as an example.

“Asia, with more of 50% of the world population, only has three out of 24 seats.”

Also football has to undergo some reforms, and in order to create a more balanced game, FIFA has to be more inclusive and proactive, and aim at correcting the inequalities in the world of football. Development should be a vision in itself, not something you do for charity or talk about at a conference. Currently, the game is dominated by too few clubs at too few continents, Champagne argued.

The importance of FIFA
“The strength of football, the universality of football comes from the fact that FIFA is composed by 209 federations”, Champagne said, and suggested a closer look at how the executive committee seats are distributed in order to address all aspects of inequality of the game.

“We need a governing authority, with transparency, of course, with honesty, of course, but with a vision. And the vision is to correct the inequalities in football,” he said. “If not, we don’t need FIFA.”

“There is not one Europe, as is not one Africa. That’s why FIFA is so important because it’s the only structure which can proactively correct the inequality between continents, countries and clubs,” Champagne ended his speech.  

Both Champagne and Lord Triesman agreed that the existence of a well-functioning regulating body is crucial, but reforms are needed before the current institution is trustworthy and democratic.

“Football remains too important a cultural cause to simply allow it to continue at international level as it is,” Triesman concluded. 

Play the Game/The Danish Institute for Sports Studies is co-organising the EASM 2012 conference together with University College of Northern Denmark.


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