Gianni Infantino has been in charge of FIFA for just two weeks, but he’s already taking steps to right the alleged wrongs carried out under the leadership of Sepp Blatter.
World football’s governing body has filed for tens of millions of dollars in compensation from former executive committee members being prosecuted in the US for graft.
The organisation has, for the first time, acknowledged that its officials “sold” votes in World Cup bidding contests.
But is FIFA a victim attempting to move forward with the transparency long demanded of it? Or are people right to remain sceptical?
For more on this story Joe Allen from euronews’ sports desk spoke to Deborah Unger from the ‘Corruption in Sport’ initiative at Transparency International.
Joe Allen, euronews:
“This is, effectively, the first time FIFA has confirmed it believes its senior executive committee members were guilty of bribery on a grand scale. Is this a genuine step towards a new era of transparency at football’s world governing body?”
Deborah Unger, Corruption in Sport, Transparency International:
“FIFA is really trying to cement its position as a victim in all this bribery and corruption and it also wants to get the money back.”
“Well, that leads perfectly to my second question. FIFA are claiming to be the victim in all this. Do you buy into that or is this FIFA’s way of diverting attention away from the fact it was responsible for its own culture and practices that led to this chaos in the first place?”
“I think it was responsible and that is something that the people at FIFA really must keep in mind.
“But it has been portrayed as a victim by the Department of Justice and it very much wants to keep that status because, if it is not a victim, then it is a perpetrator itself of the corruption. And if that’s the case then it could, eventually, be shut down by the Swiss authorities. So if it can keep the “victim” status then it can reform itself.
“Now, will it reform itself? That’s the next question. Is this the first step to doing that? It has admitted to the bribery, it has admitted that there are bad apples — or were bad apples — within the organisation and this is a step towards being more transparent. But, we’re going to have to see an awful lot more, I think, to win back everybody’s trust. I think people will be a bit cynical about this announcement.
“FIFA has accepted that bribes and kickbacks were paid for votes in the South African bid, but what about all the other recent World Cups and especially the future tournaments in Russia and Qatar? Should that be the next step in FIFA’s attempt for full transparency? Where does FIFA go from here?”
“Well, there are ongoing investigations, legal investigations both in Switzerland and in the US, into the later World Cup awarding processes. And once those come out FIFA will have to respond to that.
“Now, FIFA did its own investigation. I think people are forgetting something called the Garcia Report. Now this was never published and we at Transparent International have always said that it should be published. Only an edited version of it, which was disputed by its author, ever came to light. So, I think that there is probably a lot more information about the other World Cup bids over the years and, if the investigations continue, we’re going to learn a lot more about that in the future.”
“How close are we to having an unredacted Garcia Report?”
“I’m not sure. We don’t know. I think that Gianni Infantino should, as president, make that a priority as one of the key moves that he can do to win back trust. We haven’t heard about that yet – let’s hope that it comes soon.”