FIFA’s Independent Governance Committee (IGC) chairman Mark Pieth has called on sponsors and the Swiss government to take a keener interest in the administration of world football’s governing body.
Pieth, who is set to leave the IGC at the end of the year, believes FIFA partners should hold the organisation more accountable. He feels their stance may be altered however by the recent events in Brazil, where protests have highlighted the cost of staging next year’s World Cup. “It’s a bit of a sad story that the sponsors haven’t come out more forcibly and I think we should encourage them to do so,” said Pieth, according to Reuters. “My suggestion to the sponsors would be to take this governance reform very seriously.” He added: “I think for the first time in Brazil, they have realised the buying (sponsoring) of such an event can also turn to a disadvantage… if your name is associated on television with unrest all the time.”
FIFA’s headquarters are based in Zurich and Pieth stated his belief that the Swiss government could also intervene by simply ending tax-exempt status. “The host state could require a certain minimum in governance (standards),” he said. “You don’t have to change a single law or the status of these companies. If you cannot judge whether they’re non-profit, you cannot give them tax-exempt status. The consequence could be that they will flee the country; they will run away but tough luck. That is what the state needs to do. With FIFA, you have the difficulties that the world is facing vis-a-vis corruption and you have a patronage network of people who believe they are in a private environment. You don’t have to go so far to realise this. If you go to southern Europe, you have fantastic football nations, one after the other. But they are not very enthusiastic about this reform process and would rather ditch it sooner than later.”
Swiss anti-corruption expert Pieth was in November 2011 chosen to lead the IGC in its bid to oversee reform of FIFA in the wake of the high-profile corruption scandals endured by the organisation that year. May’s FIFA Congress saw a new set of statutes based on wide-ranging reforms designed to boost FIFA’s damaged image passed with majorities of well over 90%. The statutes included the rubber-stamping of the new Ethics Committee designed to root out any wrongdoing and the switch that will see Congress decide on the hosts of future World Cups, rather than the Executive Committee. However, the proposal to introduce age and mandate limits for senior officials was postponed to the 2014 Congress, while Pieth told delegates that FIFA president Sepp Blatter and senior executives should reveal their salaries. Pieth announced earlier this month that he intends to retire from his IGC position at the end of the year. Regarding the ongoing reform process, he added: “Between one quarter and one third of the executive committee has been changed. Many of the new people are champions of this governance movement, they want to see change and that will bring about change.”