PtG Article 16.11.2010

FIFA scandal a threat to Switzerland's image

The recent FIFA scandal comes at a bad time for Switzerland, which have been trying to move away from its image as a safe port for tax cheats.

The country has come under fire for luring foreign companies with promises of low taxes and “favorable” regulations at a time when governments on both sides of the Atlantic are scrambling for funds and increasing oversight.

“Switzerland has allowed FIFA and other international sports bodies to operate without any transparency,” said Daniel Kaufmann former director for governance and anti-corruption at the World Bank. “If nothing changes, Switzerland may be seen by many as offering a ‘safe haven’ to non-transparent and mismanaged sports organizations, as it had done with the banks until not long ago.”

It’s unclear what Switzerland can or wants to do about the issue of corruption in sports. After all, the alleged victims — the countries that fight tooth and nail to host the games — are willing participants. To a great extent, FIFA has no one to fear because there is no huge push to change, and at the moment at least, it has a monopoly on the game. Outside of Switzerland, no leader wishing to remain popular wants to blow his or her country’s chance for glory, even if the possibility of riches through hosting the World Cup is uncertain.

SOURCE: Market Watch