FIFA's new governance committee under fire for lack of transparency and independence

The members of FIFA's Independent Government Committee are criticised: They are not independent. Photo: Ed Coyle/Flickr

21.12.2011

By Kirsten Sparre
Even before their first meeting, the newly appointed members of FIFA's Independent Governance Committte (IGC) have received an indication of the scrutiny their work will face. Committee members are being criticised for not being independent enough of FIFA, whilst organisations like Transparency International and Football Supports Europe have declined to join the committee.

A few days ago, Professor Mark Pieth, who heads up the IGC, announced who would join him on the committee. According to Basel Institute of Governance, the list include

  • Sunil Gulati, the current president of the United States Soccer Federation
  • Leonardo Grosso, president of FIFPro, the worldwide representative organisation for all professional football players
  • Lydia Nskera, president of the Football Federation of Burundi since 2004, and member of the IOC sinde 2009
  • Lord (Peter) Goldsmith, QC, lawyer and the UK’s Attorney General from 2001-2007
  • Alexandra Wrage, president and founder of TRACE, an international non-profit membership association working with companies to raise their anti-bribery compliance standards
  • Michael Hershman, president and CEO of the Fairfax Group and an internationally recognized expert on matters relating to transparency, accountability, governance and securityGuillermo Jorge, founder and managing partner of Guillermo Jorge & Asociados, a Buenos Aires based legal and consulting firm specialized in preventing and enforcing anticorruption and anti-money laundering laws and regulation and asset recovery remedies
  • James Klotz, partner at Miller Thomson LLP, and Co-Chair of the Canadian firm’s International Business Transactions Group
  • François Morinière, CEO of Groupe L’Équipe">
  • Carlos Heller, President of Credicoop Bank, a cooperative banking organization

Thanks, but no thanks
Organisations like Transparency International and Football Supporters Europe were also invited to join the committee but have declined. Transparency International severed its links with FIFA and the comittee a few weeks ago when it became known that Mark Pieth would receive a fee for his work for FIFA. In the view of Transparency International this was incompatible with being independent from FIFA. 

Football Supporters Europe had different concerns but they are are also related to whether the work of the committee will be transparent, democratic and independent enough of FIFA:

"We feel that an Independent Governance Committee can only be truly independent if its chair is at least appointed or democratically elected by the committee itself, rather than by FIFA's Executive Committee which will be subject to the reform process to be overseen by the IGC itself," the organisation writes on its website
.  Football Supporters Europe also feel that the time frame for the reform process is too short to gain substantial insight into the work of FIFA's four task forces or carry out investigations into the past. Finally, the organisation is unhappy with the speed of the nomination process and the lack of information about who the other members of the committee would be. 

Committee is not independent
Elsewhere US academic Roger Pielke and investigative journalist Jens Weinreich from Germany are concerned about the independence of some committee members and the lack of disclosure of potential political and economic ties between IGC-members and FIFA.

In a blog post cross-posted on Jens Weinreich's blog, Pielke divides committee members into three groups">
"However, FIFA's "Independent Governance Committee" is far from independent," Pielke concludes.

In another blog post
, Pielke points to the problems it raises for the committee and its president Mark Pieth that is has not disclosed that FIFA paid Pieth an amount of $128,000 and more than $5,000 per day to produce an initial report for FIFA. These figures were disclosed by the Swiss newspaper, the Handelszeitung.

"While FIFA can pay anyone they want to produce a report, the instant that Pieth was selected to chair the FIFA "Independent Governance Committee" the payment">fundamental notions of conflict of interest
 employed in business, governments and non-governmental organizations", writes Pielke.

Committee must link past to the future
At Play the Game, international director Jens Sejer Andersen agrees that FIFA's Independence Governance Committee has got off to a bad start by not disclosing financial interests and the exact amounts members of the committee are being paid by FIFA for their work.

"But what is much more important are the results of the committee's work. We must judge them on the outcome which should be based on an understanding that FIFA's past can not be separated from decisions about its future," says Andersen.

He stresses that there is an urgent need for an independent investigation of the corruption allegations against individual members of FIFA's Executive Committee as well as the circumstances surrounding the selection of Russia and Quatar as hosts for the World Cups in 2018 and 2022.

"Without such an investigation, there will be a heavy cloud of distrust and suspicion hanging over the committee's work because FIFA's honesty will be in doubt," says Andersen who notes with satisfaction that Pieth has talked about interviewing investigative journalists who have researched FIFA's past carefully.

  • Siena Denton, WELLINGTON NEW ZEALAND, 10.02.2012 13:48:
     
    Kiaora Jeremy.

    You are totally incorrect, the Judiciary in New Zealand are paid their protected salaries and manure Oops! Tenure by the State Services Commission and guess where they access their budget from...Like the government they get it from us the taxpayer.

    I do however, agree with you on one point...Stick to rugby!

    Football is for those endowed with an intellectual disposition!
  • Jeremy Pope, New Zealand, 22.12.2011 13:47:
     
    Let's get real. Judges are paid by a government - does this render them ipso facto biased? I personally was delighted when Mark Pieth, a man of impeccable ethics with a long track record of anti-corruption work, was appointed to chair this exercise. So, too, Michael Hershman. This pair should give comfort to those - like me - who have been concerned with apparent rampant corruption within the so-called 'beautiful game'. I will continue to stick to rugby!
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