Home News Scandal brought reforms to football. Its leaders are setting them back.

Scandal brought reforms to football. Its leaders are setting them back.


The 12-page report aims to rescue football’s governing body, FIFA, from its existential crisis.

The report, drafted by more than a dozen football insiders in December 2015, is full of recommendations for reform and is FIFA’s plan to present its work to commercial partners, U.S. investigators and billions of football fans. one of the biggest corruption scandals in sports history.

exist bullet points and numbered sections, a report that promotes noble ideals such as responsibility and humility. It also proposes concrete, revolutionary changes for FIFA: transparency on how major decisions are reached; term limits for top leaders and new limits on presidential powers; and the abolition of well-funded committees widely seen as institutionally corrupt.

On the last page of the report, deep in its list of authors, there is the name of a man who claims to be the savior of FIFA: Gianni Infantino.

Infantino, an administrator at European football’s governing body, has been drafted in to help craft reforms. He was already a candidate for FIFA president when they announced it. Showing a radical break with the past, he took office within a few months and quickly began implementing many changes. The sport’s six regional federations have also pledged to clean up their act.

Less than a decade later, football’s interest in reform appears to have waned.External audit of African football’s governing bodies, in FIFA takes control The organization recommends investing tens of millions of dollars Misappropriation of funds.Governing Bodies in Europe and North and Central America Give up on reform Compare public commitments to concrete actions, or ignore commitments entirely. The Asian Football Confederation will vote this week on removing term limits for senior leadership.

In Bangkok on Friday, Mr Infantino and FIFA will ask their members to approve A series of changes were made to its charter This would lead to rolling back more of the changes he once embraced and restoring the very structures he was trying to clear out.

Critics believe it would take football away from the good governance principles it adopted amid the scandal. The organization responded, “FIFA simply does not share this view.”

Whenever questions about corporate integrity are raised, FIFA, the institution, and Mr. Infantino himself, often cite strong support for its reforms. While Infantino rarely gives interviews, FIFA said in response to questions about undoing the reforms that changes since the 2015 scandal had transformed it “from a toxic institution into a respected, trustworthy institution.” modern management organization.”

This move to model governance “has been endorsed by several external organizations, including the U.S. Department of Justice,” the report said.

But U.S. officials said last week they had never reviewed FIFA’s rules or governance standards, and the prosecutor’s office that has brought many corruption cases has declined to support FIFA reforms.

“Our office has not endorsed the effectiveness of any of FIFA’s current reform efforts,” said John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

FIFA and its two regional confederations have grant victim status The Justice Department believes the Justice Department has been harmed by its own leaders. The designation could allow it to recover tens of millions of dollars seized from defendants in the case.

But U.S. officials have refused to pay FIFA’s fees, signaling the Justice Department’s reluctance to support FIFA’s argument for changing agencies. $201 million compensation fund It is awarded directly to FIFA or its relevant federation. Instead, they took the unusual step of requesting a foundation in the United States to receive the proceeds.

Meanwhile, FIFA has moved to amend its charter, which was revised following the scandal.In the 2015 study, for example, Mr. Infantino and other report authors called for the scrapping of the bloated committee system that for years has been one of FIFA’s worst excesses: a sponsorship mission program, from the World Football officials from all over the country can enjoy luxury air travel, five-star accommodation and high annual salaries, all funded by FIFA, in exchange for their loyalty and votes.

FIFA had 26 such standing committees at the time. The 2015 report recommended reducing the number to nine “to improve efficiency”. Currently, there are only seven.

but as part of Proposed Rule Changes Infantino, who will be deliberating in Bangkok this week, will ask members to approve a five-fold increase in panel membership to 35, and grant powers to create new panels and appoint members as he sees fit.

FIFA said it needed the additional committees as it has significantly expanded its functions and said the roles would create more positions for women. It is said that some meetings will be held by telephone conference. It did not say how appointees to the committee would be selected, but interest has already emerged in the roles.

A sports official who works for another major sports body but has served on the FIFA committee smiled after learning of its reinstatement. He asked not to be named because he still has ties to the group. But he said he hoped to get a position because the perks traditionally include access to prized World Cup tickets.

Region by region, the promise of change has been watered down. The Asian Football Confederation voted this week to lift term limits, which will allow its president and board members to stay in office indefinitely. (The AFC said four of its member associations have asked for the changes.) European Football President’s Efforts Exceeds 12-year term limit was approved, but became moot when he said he wouldn’t run. (He said he had not planned to extend his term but wanted to test the loyalty of members.) North American football body Concacaf was nearly brought down by a corruption scandal in 2015 but failed to deliver on promised changes, such as hiring employee. Independent Board Member. (The company did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.)

At the same time, culture High-paying sinecure and Plenipotentiary President Enhanced in some aspects. Members of FIFA’s high-level committee receive an annual salary of $250,000 to $350,000, and their job requires only attending three meetings per year. Infantino’s salary has more than doubled to nearly $5 million since taking office, and he recently oversaw a term-limit modification specifically for him that could allow him to stay in his position for 15 years , instead of 12 years. stipulated in the FIFA Statutes.

Miguel Maduro, the first FIFA governance chief appointed after Infantino was elected, blamed the organization’s culture for repeating past mistakes. “It’s not enough to just cut down some bad apples if the trees that produce them are left in place,” he said.

Maduro, who resigned from governance in 2017, said the weakening of guardrails was a “formalization of the reversal of reforms.” He called the latest changes “confirmation” of a process that has been ongoing informally for years.

As Infantino consolidates his position, he simultaneously rolls back changes aimed at reducing the influence of his office. Under the proposed changes, the president would become the sport’s “ambassador” and greater powers would be handed to FIFA’s top executive – the secretary-general – with the position being transformed into more of a chief executive role.

Yet for much of Infantino’s term, his handpicked secretary-general, Fatma Samoura, was rarely involved in major matters.Instead, the most important decisions are increasingly being integrated into less and fewer handsand is controlled by an organization called the Bureau.

In closed-door meetings, members of the bureau – football’s six regional presidents and Mr Infantino – exchanged information on top-flight matches.In October, they submitted to the FIFA Council Plans to reduce bidders for the 2030 Men’s World Cup to just one option, Three continents offer The event will take place in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

This option limits the scope of candidates for the next World Cup to only those from Asia and Oceania, Validly granted Saudi Arabia has already started bidding for the 2034 World Cup. Within 24 hours it had the backing of the Asian Football Confederation and Infantino.

FIFA member states still need to vote to confirm the hosts of the 2030 and 2034 tournaments.But only one candidate bids in each race, and Mr Infantino’s preferred result Clearly, these votes appear to be a fait accompli.

As Ms Samura recently left FIFA, the reduction in her old job may also become official in Bangkok. Under the new draft charter, any reference to the secretary-general serving as FIFA’s chief executive will be removed. Instead, the position, which previously reported to the Board of Directors, will also report directly to the President.

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