Public pressure is needed to continue reform process in FIFA

Mark Pieth speaking at EASM 2012. Photo: © Michael Bo Rasmussen/Baghuset

The reform process is met by considerable resistance in FIFA, two of the main characters in the current FIFA reform process, Dr. Theo Zwanziger and Professor Mark Pieth, said, when they spoke at a session at the EASM 2012 conference.

The reform process is met by considerable resistance in FIFA, two of the main characters in the current FIFA reform process, Dr. Theo Zwanziger and Professor Mark Pieth, said, when they spoke at a session at the EASM 2012 conference.

The reform process in FIFA is far from concluded and continued public pressure is needed to keep the process going up to next year’s congress. If not, the whole on-going reforming process risks a standstill as reforms are met by significant opposition within the organisation.
“Since we have no law enforcement agency really, or since the Swiss government in this case, is not going to act in the pace we would wish, I’m inviting civil society, and especially the fans, to push for reforms. It is fine talking, but we need action now,” Mark Pieth said at the EASM conference 2012 in Aalborg, Denmark, co-organised by Play the Game.

Pieth, head of FIFA’s Independent Governance Committee (IGC), stressed that he sees no serious alternative to the present challenging reform process in FIFA with FIFA trying to self-regulate from the top. A process, the FIFA ExCo member and co-speaker at the conference, Theo Zwanziger, described as being in government and opposition at the same time.

“Let’s admit that at this very point in time, self regulation is the only realistic option we have, in the case of FIFA certainly, and we also have to admit that it is a very difficult transition,” Pieth said, agreeing that it might not be the most radical way.

While Lord Triesman in an earlier keynote speech at EASM 2012 called for radical changes in the leadership of FIFA, Pieth instead described the IGC as midwives, preparing structures for FIFA to move on by in the future.

“I’m not Mr Clean”, Pieth stressed. “We are here as a kind of midwives, creating structures that is going to stay on when we leave. And we will leave after the congress in May, because then we have done our job”. 

Defining new governance structures
The next phase in the reforming process consists of defining new governance structures, and Pieth listed a number of points of reform:

A new way of electing executive committee members, a clarification of rules regarding the president’s authority to use FIFA funds, and publication of remuneration are some of the issues that will be addressed ahead of the May congress.

The rules on the bidding processes regarding marketing and hosting rights should also undergo change as well as a development committee should be set up in order to make more long-term strategies of how the development funds are distributed to prevent vote-buying e.g.

According to Dr. Theo Zwanziger, head of the FIFA sub-committee in charge of proposing more than 200 statute changes, one of the biggest challenges in the FIFA reform process is how to establish a better balance of power. 

“If you are trying to run for public office, you know that one day you are the minister, the next day you find yourself in the opposition – the voters will give you the verdict of where you will be,” he said pointing out that it is not the case in the world of sport and FIFA.

“You have the obligation to look out for reforms within your working area in order to fulfil the lack you have of the ever changing situation between being in government or opposition, that way reform is possible.”  

According to Zwanziger, FIFA is ready to continue the reform process, but resistance against the reforming process exists internally – ie. against time limited period of offices – and, as Pieth, he called upon the public to critically follow the process, while also recognising the positive forces working inside the organisation.

“I really will ask you all to be critical followers of this process but don’t make the mistake to only criticise people, for they really have entered into this work because they have a burning desire for football and sports and that should continue for the benefit of everybody.” 

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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