FIFA responds to the Report Card on FIFA Reform

Will FIFA join Roger Pielke Jr. on stage at Play the Game 2013 to discuss its reform process? Photo: Ed Coyle/Flickr

08.07.2013

FIFA has responded to Roger Pielke Jr.'s Report Card on FIFA Reform posted on Play the Game's website last month. Pielke replied by inviting FIFA to join him on stage for a further discussion at Play the Game 2013 in October.

Last month on Play the Game's website, Roger Pielke Jr. evaluated FIFA's reform process and found that it has "fallen far short of what is needed to achieve what are broadly shared community norms of what constitutes good governance". In a response, FIFA argues that Pielke's article does not reflect the reality of the reform process. See the full response from FIFA below. 

FIFA Response of 5 July 2013

Dear Mr Pielke

We have read the article published on the playthegame.org website on 19 June 2013: http://www.playthegame.org/news/detailed/a-report-card-on-fifa-reform-5625.html

We consider that the said article does not reflect the reality of the reform process undertaken by FIFA since June 2011. Equally, it does not properly reflect the positions which have been publicly expressed by the Independent Governance Committee (IGC) on the implementation process of the governance reforms. In addition, it is worth adding that the integrity, competence and expertise of Prof. Mark Pieth and the various other members of the IGC is well documented and publicly available.

In your article, specifications of the large number of recommendations that you claim have been omitted by FIFA’s reform process are missing. Further, may we comment on some of your references: With regards to Alexandra Wrage, FIFA directly and swiftly responded to each of her criticisms, as many of them were inconsistent with the facts. Guido Tognoni, on the other hand, has not assumed any role in the FIFA governance reform process and therefore may not be considered as an official source of reference.

Since its launch by President Joseph S. Blatter at the FIFA Congress in June 2011, the FIFA reform process was undertaken and formalised on a clear, specific and publicly communicated basis and framework. A two-year road map outlining the stages and timelines of the reform process between October 2011 and the FIFA Congress in May 2013 was established. The Independent Governance Committee (IGC) was set up with the support of four Task Forces (Task Force FIFA Ethics Committee; Task Force Transparency and Compliance; Task Force Revision of Statutes; and Task Force Football 2014) with the mandate to propose recommendations in the areas of ethics, compliance and other amendments to the FIFA Statutes.

In light of the above, the recommendations made by the IGC in its first report to the FIFA Executive Committee on 20 March 2012 as well as the additional proposals made by the four Task Forces since the launch of the process in October 2011 are to be considered as reference when commenting on the overall results of this process. Earlier reports issued by Prof. Mark Pieth and Transparency International in 2011 served as input for the analysis made by the IGC and the Task Forces, and essential ideas from these reports were further developed and incorporated in the IGC report.

As documented by FIFA, the IGC proposals have been implemented and have been followed in their great majority. For more details on the IGC recommendations and the reforms implemented by FIFA, please see:

In its second report to the FIFA Executive Committee (from 6 February 2013), the IGC states the following:

“The goal of the first phase of the project was the establishment of independent and professional judicial and financial/compliance oversight bodies respectively, including leadership by independent and internationally renowned experts in their fields.

The IGC made several concrete recommendations in that respect, which have been supported by the Executive Committee and approved by FIFA’s members at the Congress in 2012:

  • The Ethics Committee has been divided into an investigatory and an adjudicatory chamber;

  • Both chambers are now be chaired by independent (in accordance with an new definition of independence) persons, meeting the necessary professional requirements;

  • The Ethics Committee has been given the competences and resources to discharge its purpose. Specifically, the investigatory chamber is able to draw up a budget at its own discretion in order to conduct professional investigations with internal or external resources;

  • The Ethics Committee is empowered to investigate and adjudicate past issues or behavior and the investigatory chamber has the power to open investigations completely independently from any other FIFA bodies or officials;

  • The Code of Ethics has been revised and put into force to reflect these structural and procedural changes and to describe the rules of conduct and expected behavior (e.g. conflicts of interest, gifts and other benefits, bribery and corruption) more clearly;

  • A confidential reporting mechanism in order to systematically manage complaints and allegations of all kinds has been activated at the beginning of February 2013;

  • An Audit & Compliance Committee has been established with the typical supervisory role of an Audit Committee and the additional responsibilities for a Compliance Program as well as for Compensation & Benefits;

  • The Chairman of the Audit & Compliance Committee is independent and meets the necessary professional requirements;

  • The Audit & Compliance Committee has been given the competences and resources to discharge its purpose; it has access to persons and information and can decide on the support of external advice at its own discretion.

The IGC regards it as extremely important that FIFA, as a first step in its governance reform, has decided to create a professional and independent investigation and adjudication function as well as a credible Audit & Compliance Committee. The Chairmen of the Investigatory Chamber and the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee and the Audit & Compliance Committee are the kind of independent and professional chairpersons the IGC has been suggesting.

The revised Code of Ethics and Organization Regulations are important instruments for the effective work of those bodies.”

With reference to the above, you may also want to note that the formal election of all the FIFA judicial bodies as well as the election of the Audit and Compliance Committee took place at the FIFA Congress 2013.

As for the IGC reports, these can be found on the web page of the Basel Institute on Governance: http://www.baselgovernance.org/gov/governance-in-sports/fifa/

In addition to the above-mentioned reforms related to the Code of Ethics, Ethics Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee, other proposals made by the IGC and the four Task Forces have been implemented by FIFA, including but not limited to:

Enhanced financial controls of the FIFA development programmes via:

  • Establishment of a Development Committee dealing specifically with FIFA’s development programmes;

  • Enhanced control of funds (e.g. audits, requirements); 

  • Public disclosure of use of funds (on FIFA’s website FIFA.com);

  • New General Regulations on FIFA Development Programmes.

For more details on the FIFA development programmes, please see:

Female members in the Executive Committee: Election for the first time of a woman to the Executive Committee and co-opting of two women to the Executive Committee.

Hosting of the FIFA World Cup: FIFA Congress to decide on the venue for the final competition of the FIFA World Cup™ based on a shortlist consisting of up to three bids submitted by the FIFA Executive Committee, with the stipulation that FIFA Congress shall not award the hosting rights to more than one FIFA World Cup™ at the same meeting.

Integrity checks: Persons who hold or seek to hold an official FIFA position as President, vice-president, female member or other member of the FIFA Executive Committee, chairman, deputy chairman or member of the Audit and Compliance Committee, or chairman, deputy chairman or member of the judicial bodies shall undergo an integrity check prior to their election or re-election, in accordance with standards established by FIFA. Certain integrity checks will be made at confederation level, however, the FIFA Ethics Committee will have access to the files and can launch investigation if it deems necessary. Furthermore, you may want to note that the confidential reporting mechanism mentioned above can be used for reporting of inappropriate behaviour and infringements of the pertinent regulations of FIFA.

Election of the President: A candidature for the office of FIFA President shall only be valid if supported by a total of at least five member associations and if the candidate has played an active role in association football for two of the last five years before candidacy. The conditions to be observed during a candidature for the office of President shall be stipulated in the Regulations Governing Candidatures for the Office of President. These regulations shall be issued by the Executive Committee.

With regard to the age/terms of office, the FIFA Congress 2013 decided to postpone both items until the FIFA Congress in 2014, so that they can be further analysed and concrete proposals can be submitted.

With regard to independent observers in the FIFA Executive Committee you may want to note that the chairman of the Audit and Compliance may attend all meetings he deems necessary in his entire discretion (please refer to the press conference of Prof. Mark Pieth and the three independent chairmen of the Ethics Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee on FIFA’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXVZMZ1PhFY).

Considering all the above and regardless of whether the recommendations constitute main recommendations, sub recommendations, higher, medium or lower level recommendations, an objective observation of the reforms implemented can only confirm that the overall result of this process contributes to greater transparency, stronger separation of powers, enhanced ethics and compliance structures and corresponding procedures in line with FIFA’s constant aim to adapt its structures and procedures where relevant and on the basis of the needs of the organisation and the game.  

We hope you find this information useful.

Best regards,

FIFA Communications & Public Affairs

The response can also be found on Roger Pielke Jr.'s blog 'The Least Thing'


At Play the Game 2013 - taking place in Aarhus, Denmark on 28-31 October 2013 - Roger Pielke Jr. will give a keynote address on FIFA's reform process, good governance and the need for reform of sports organisations. Pielke has publicly via Twitter invited FIFA to join him on stage for further discussions. Play the Game has also formally invited FIFA to Play the Game 2013 to present their take on the most talked about reform process in the world of sport. 

Good governance in sport is a major theme at Play the Game 2013. Alongside Pielke and a number of other interesting speakers, governance experts from universities across Europe will present their good governance index – a list of the best and worst governed international sports organisations. The index is created by the use of the 'Sports Governance Observer', a tool to measure transparency, democracy and accountability in international sports organisations created as a part of the project ‘Action for Good Governance in International Sports Organisations (AGGIS)’. 

Read more about Play the Game 2013 at the conference website www.playthegame.org/2013

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