Integrity in football needs compliance and collaboration
Compliance is crucial in the fight against match-fixing and corruption, said a line of speakers at the Soccerex convention this week and also agreed that top-down cultural changes are needed.
The Court of Arbitration (CAS) has called for public authorities to over-rule sporting bodies in the fight against match-fixing.
The autonomy of sporting bodies is a central tenet of FIFA’s approach to running the game but is no longer enough, says Ricardo du Buen, an arbitrator at CAS.
Speaking on a panel titled ‘Integrity in Football Governance’ at the annual Soccerex conference in Manchester, England, du Buen said: “FIFA has to enforce minimum levels of compliance. In the match-fixing area, it’s important that the state intervenes. We have seen cases where sport has intervened and it doesn’t work.
“If you have a match-fixing situation where one team has given money to another team in Mexico, you cannot prosecute. I am not saying that has happened but if it did you cannot prosecute because the regulations don’t allow it.”
Emilio Garcia, head of disciplinary and integrity at UEFA, said that the fight against match-fixing was a fight against organised crime and insisted that collaboration from “public authorities” was essential.
“Match-fixing should not be handled by the local authorities, not someone like UEFA. It’s a criminal case,” said Garcia who praised the recent CAS ruling that allowed UEFA to exclude Albanian champions KF Skenderbeu from European competition on allegations of match-fixing.
Skenderbeu, who had won the Albanian title for the last six years, appealed to CAS against UEFA’s initial ban, which CAS then upheld.
“CAS confirmed we can exclude clubs based on irregular patterns of betting worldwide,” said Garcia, who added that the biggest problem facing UEFA was illegal betting.
Problems start at the bottom
Speaking on the same panel, former Swiss international Ramon Vega, was dismissive of attempts to change the governance of the game.
“People within the system won’t change it,” said Vega, who last year put himself forward as a potential FIFA presidential candidate. “We have all had enough now of this system, of this club as we call it.”
Vega, who now works in finance, insisted that the problems within football start at the bottom.
He added: “We are always looking at reform of the executive side. The virus that has to be cleared up is at the bottom where the clubs are, and the agents. Now anyone can be an agent.”
Vega advocated that FIFA force national associations to regulate players’ agents and was supported by du Buen.
FIFA introduce compliance officers
The calls came a day after the global body’s new secretary general Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura said FIFA wants all six international confederations to employ a chief compliance officer.
Edward Hanover was named as FIFA’s Chief Compliance Officer on September 16.
Samoura said UEFA was recruiting a compliance officer and that FIFA wanted the confederations in Africa, Asia, CONCACAF, Conmebol and Oceania to do the same.
“We have created a chief compliance officer role. We are building an improved member services operation … to ensure development money is spent efficiently. We hope the other confederations will follow suit,” Samoura said.
In an uncontroversial speech on the same day that FIFA separately announced it was scrapping its anti-racism department, Samoura insisted the governing body was “in a better place than we were three months ago”, but admitted that: “There were some habits that needed to change, some cultural and institutional behaviour that we had already started working on.”