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MPs: We are appalled by FIFA

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

A report released today by the influential Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee says it was “appalled” by allegations it heard against members of the FIFA Executive Committee in relation to England’s failed 2018 World Cup bid.

FIFA’s decision not to investigate Jack Warner following his resignation from its Executive Committee is also described as “extraordinary”. The FA is also urged to commission a review of its 2018 bid as it did following the failure to secure the 2006 World Cup.

“The Committee was appalled by the allegations of corruption made against members of the FIFA Executive Committee during the course of its inquiry,” says the report. “They are sufficiently serious for FIFA to commission a full, urgent and independent investigation, and for the outcome to be made public. Instead, FIFA has given every impression of wishing to sweep all allegations of misconduct under the carpet and of dismissing anyone bringing allegations to them with an approach bordering on contempt.”

The MPs also backed the FA’s call for greater transparency at world football’s governing body and called for a “thorough review of its governance of bidding processes” similar to the example set by the International Olympic Committee. The IOC’s own reputation was called into question following allegation of corruption relating to Salt Lake City’s bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games which prompted widely praised reform.

“The record of Sepp Blatter to date does not inspire confidence that this will occur,” acknowledged MPs. They also described the decision not to investigate Jack Warner as “extraordinary” and say the decision showed nothing had changed at FIFA.

John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Committee said: “The committee’s decision to hold a special hearing on FIFA and England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup has been amply justified by the revelations that followed from it. These have shown beyond doubt that FIFA’s governance and its process for awarding competitions is in need of fundamental reform.

“Yet the re-election of Sepp Blatter and the decision to drop the FIFA Ethics Committee investigation following Jack Warner’s resignation suggest nothing has changed. The credibility of FIFA has been hugely damaged and it is now up to Mr Blatter to deliver on his promises made at the time of his re-election and to show that allegations of misconduct and corruption will no longer be swept under the carpet. We urge the FA to continue to press for real change in FIFA and to work with other national associations to ensure that it happens.”

FIFA has lost all credibility

FSF Chair Malcolm Clarke says: “FIFA has lost all credibility in the eyes of football fans and if it ever wishes to claw any of that back it must become transparent and accountable. In future every last member of the organisation’s Executive Committee and other senior FIFA staff must be open with their own financial arrangements and business interests to avoid allegation after allegation of corruption.

“All future votes during World Cup bidding processes must be entirely open, recorded, and judged against pre-determined criteria. Let’s not forget that England was rated the best technical and commercial bid for 2018 by FIFA itself – a fact totally ignored by FIFA’s own Executive Committee. An international sports anti-corruption agency similar in power and scope to the World Anti-Doping Agency is desperately needed.”

These points were hammered home at last weekend’s European Fans’ Congress attended by hundreds of fans from 30 countries. The FSF proposed an emergency motion arguing that FIFA must become transparent, accountable, and introduce an international sports anti-corruption and anti-match fixing agency. The motion was passed unanimously by fans in attendance – read it in full here.
 
The MP’s report also reserved some criticisms for the FA’s World Cup 2018 bid itself. The estimated cost to the FA for the failed venture was £15m while local councils hoping to hold matches spent a total of £2.1m on their own bids to be host cities in 2018.

“Bidding for international sporting events will remain a hazardous business. However, England’s bid team appears to have lacked a number of the components of a successful bid. Lessons did not appear to have been learned from previous studies with regard to the composition and unity of the bid team. We urge the FA to conduct a review of the 2018 bid along the lines of its 2006 bid report.”

The Committee also urged the FA to review its longer term engagement with FIFA with a view to increasing influence and encouraging reform. The report concludes that the Government should also review its own advice in bidding for future sporting events and consider whether “sufficient attention was given to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the England bid both before the bid was declared and during the bidding process.”

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