PtG Article 23.08.2012

FIFA’s top reformers discuss their key proposals at EASM 2012 conference

The former president of the German Football Association, Theo Zwanziger, and head of FIFA’s Independent Governance Committee, Mark Pieth, are among the keynote speakers at the EASM conference in Aalborg, Denmark, taking place on 18-21 September.

For the first time, FIFA’s top reformers will together meet a broad international audience in an open debate about the on-going reform processes of the scandal-ridden organisation. The FIFA reforms are meant to improve the organisation’s governance and to repair the image of football’s world governing body after widespread corruption scandals in recent years. 

The debate will take place as a part of the sports management conference EASM 2012 in Aalborg on 18-21 September. Play the Game and the Danish Institute for Sports Studies are co-organisers of the conference along with the University College of Northern Denmark (UCN), and have therefore had the unique opportunity to make a mark on the content of the conference programme. 

Approximately 500 delegates from the sports management field from across the globe will get the chance to meet the prominent member of FIFA’s executive committee, Theo Zwanziger, who recently resigned from his post as president of the German Football Federation and now devote his time to leading the FIFA subcommittee in charge of proposing over 200 statute changes.

Another leading force in FIFA’s reform process, the results of which are still uncertain, is the Swiss anti-corruption expert and head of FIFA’s Independent Governance Committee, Professor Mark Pieth. With experience in fighting corruption from working with the UN and the OECD, Pieth has proposed an ambitious reform program meant to help FIFA become more transparent and democratic. 

Both gentlemen have encountered vehement resistance from selected groups within FIFA and have previously been very outspoken regarding the state of the federation. EASM 2012 will therefore be an excellent opportunity to gain an insight into the current challenges facing international football politics. 

FIFA in the future

Football will also be the focus when two former FIFA-related men enter into a broader debate about  the reforms that football, and sport in general, needs in order to maintain a positive role in society.

The former International Director of FIFA, Jérôme Champagne, has during the last year been so engaged in the debate that many see him as a dark horse in the struggle to take over as FIFA president after Sepp Blatter in 2015.

He is joined by the former chairman of the English Football Association (FA), Lord David Triesman, who was deeply involved in England’s battle to win the rights to host the 2018 World Cup. After a scandal where his private comments about possible irregularities in the bidding process were taped and published, he had to withdraw from his posts. In the UK Parliament, he has produced significant revelations and comments about the corrupt side of FIFA’s culture. 

One of the sources of the wealth surrounding top sports, which is a prerequisite for corruption to take place, is the Arab region. Countries in the Middle East are increasingly investing in European professional sports, applying for mega-events and leading their candidates to the top of the international sports federations.  

Few, if any, can give a better overview of this development development and its links to Middle Easters politics than James M. Dorsey, an award-winning journalist, experienced foreign correspondent for major international media outlets and currently a university teacher in Singapore. Dorsey’s blog ‘The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer' is a goldmine of information and the participants at EASM 2012 will discover that he is also an excellent storyteller. 

Focus on sports marketing

On the last day of the conference, Friday 21 September at 9 am, EASM participants can experience two standard-bearers from the industry that is connected to sport, sponsoring it and making its money from it. 

Andy Dallin, professor of the University of San Francisco, will point towards new paths for marketing in his presentation on how to optimize the spectators’ experience. Dallin has 20 years of experience from both professional and amateur sports, for example the NBA. He has been a consultant for the American Automobile Association, PeopleSoft, Jelly Belly, San Francisco Chronicle and BlueShield of California. 

In this session, EASM participants will also meet Henning Nielsen, the international marketing director of the Danish sportswear company Hummel, an icon in the national sports industry.

Read more about EASM 2012

Read more about the Play the Game symposia at EASM 2012

See the programme overview: Keynote speakers and Play the Game symposia at EASM 2012