What makes sports bodies like FIFA "fertile for corruption"?

What makes sports bodies like FIFA "fertile for corruption"?
By Chris Harris
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International sports bodies like FIFA have “poor governance and are fertile settings for corruption to take root”, according to a report published by Transparency International.

Such organisations lag behind states, businesses and charities in their governance standards, says the paper, issued by the anti-corruption campaigner group a month before last week’s arrests of top FIFA officials, including current vice-president Jack Warner.

The controversy did not stop president Sepp Blatter from winning a fifth term as head of FIFA after seeing off the challenge of Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.

The report, by Roger Pielke Jr, a professor at the University of Colorado, identified six sports bodies accused of corruption, including the IOC, the International Weightlifting Federation and the International Cycling Union.

He concluded the mix of big money in sport – such as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar which is estimated to cost $200 billion – and under-developed mechanisms of governance were major factors in the controversies.

He said: “Sports organisations have come to resemble corporations and other international institutions, but their governance practices – not only to address issues of corruption but beyond – have not kept pace.

“Although sports bodies play the role of international organisations, they are with very few exceptions neither governmental nor business operations, which helps to explain why their governance practices have developed in a unique fashion.

“As sport has gained in popularity, so too has the amount of money involved in the various games and in building associated infrastructure, especially for events such as the Olympic Games and football World Cup.

“The vast amount of money flowing through these bodies, coupled with the financially significant decisions that they make, often at the highest levels of politics and in the absence of best practices in place for governance, creates settings amenable to corruption.”

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