PtG Article 20.10.2010

New FIFA corruption scandal should surprise no one

The current vote-selling scandal has put FIFA corruption on the agenda. "There is not much to be surprised about if you follow FIFA's actions on a regular basis" said Jens Sejer Andersen, International Director at Play the Game, on Monday in an interview with World Radio Switzerland.

Through its conferences and website, Play the Game has focused closely on FIFA for the past decade. Investigative journalists, academics and sports officials have often debated FIFA critically, while FIFA has consistently declined invitations to join the debates and explain its actions.

Thus, the current vote-selling scandal comes as no surprise to Play the Game. What is unusual, Andersen argues, is the fact that this time the media actually seems to follow up on it.

Whether this increased focus will make a difference, remains to be seen. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has promised a thorough investigation of the claims, but Andersen questions whether this will lead to anything. “History does not permit me to believe that any outcome of an internal FIFA investigation will be credible” he told WRS.

FIFA’s independent ethics committee, which will be investigating the claims, has existed for many years, but never dealt with the inherent corruption problems. On the contrary, the ethics committee seems to be focussed on discussions of critical journalists and whether they should be banned, stated Andersen.In order to stamp out corruption in the major governing bodies in sport, Andersen argues for the establishment of an independent anti-corruption body – similar to the World Anti-Doping Agency. This was also the message in a presentation by Play the Game’s founder to a seminar last week at the University of Antwerpen, where Andersen dealt with FIFA’s heavy involvement in the world’s biggest sports corruption scandal, the largely unknown ISL affair.“Corruption will not disappear from sport, but it is simply necessary that the sport organisations ally with governments and make joint and transparent efforts to combat corruption in sport”.Before an informal meeting of the EU sports ministers, the Director General of WADA, David Howman, has declared he will speak to the ministers about the need of such cooperation.

Listen to the full interview with World Radio Switzerland hereRead Jens Sejer Andersens presentation about FIFA, the ISL scandal and the need for an anti-corruption agency in sport here

Catch up on Play the Game's coverage of FIFA corruption related to the ISL scandal here