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Question Marks Over New FIFA Reforms

Pic.Reuters.com
We just received an update from FIFA on how the football body proposes to regain credibility after what it says were "the difficult challenges of the past year."

As the linked video above shows, the body aims to delineate its reforms into four areas: Governance, Transparency, Accountability and Diversity. It also seeks to overhaul the structure at the heart of the organisation.

Part of this is the use of "fully independent" processes in areas like remuneration and eligibility for the new 36-member Council.

On first glance, it's a PR response to a cultural problem.

They are using all the right terms and buzzwords, but how these noble goals will be actualised seems to remain a grey area.

For us, two areas stand out.

Firstly, there is an avowed commitment to honour human rights in all areas, including programs and funding, sponsorship and commercial deals.

This appears promising. But this is unlikely to go beyond national laws in various jurisdictions and so, will not likely apply to a universal set of human rights principles. If there is such a reference point, it hasn't been made clear.

Second, there is the new-fangled FIFA Council, which is supposed to replace the dysfunctional 24-member (plus the President) Executive Committee. It's 36 members (plus President) will be elected by FIFA's Member Associations.

This area of FIFA's structure has been a highly problematic space for FIFA. Member associations are generally not independent of their national leaderships and elites, especially in lesser developed countries or in countries where there is no democratic political culture. Thus rather than reflecting grassroots concerns, the Member Associations too-often tend to reflect the wishes of political networks and agendas.

The new council, in drawing from the same gene pool looks likely to return the same crop of dysfunctional leaders in some if not many cases.

A new stakeholder committee is to be introduced and this may be designed to head off the over-politicisation of the world game. But, again, details on this are thin.

So, in summary, the new reforms are theoretically interesting but functionally still very, very underdone.


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