PtG Article 03.10.2011

Pound: No reason to trust that FIFA can clean up its own corruption

FIFA has lost all public confidence that it is willing to, or even capable of, handling the problems of corruption that the organisation is currently facing. So blunt was the assessment from long-term IOC member, Richard W. Pound, when he spoke about corruption in sport at today's opening session of the 2011 Play the Game conference in Cologne, Germany.

"FIFA has fallen far short of a credible demonstration that it recognises the many problems it faces, that it has the will to solve them, that it is willing to be transparent about what it is doing and what it finds, and that its conduct in the future will be such that the public can be confident in the governance of the sport. At the moment, I do not believe that such confidence exists or would be justified if it did," he said.

Pound is no stranger to corruption in sport. In 1998 and 1999 he oversaw the clean-up of corruption within the ranks of the IOC after the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Based on this experience, he encouraged FIFA to get assistance from third parties unconnected to the organisation in order to inspire public confidence in the attempts to clean up FIFA.  "When we did that in the IOC, the IOC was able to borrow credibility from these independent third parties, in whom the public already had confidence. Their judgment in approving the reform package put forward carried far more weight than similar statements made by the IOC itself," Pound explained.

"If I were an independent advisor to FIFA today, I would counsel it to take similar measures. The risk of not doing so is that no one will believe the outcomes of whatever process it may be implementing. A good part of the problem, of course, is that we simply do not know what is being done," he said.

Pound's assessment of FIFA's inability to inspire confidence in its commitment to better governance came in a longer speech about the general need for responses to corruption in sport. He placed the responsibility for responding squarely with the sports organisations themselves and argued that the IOC should be the main driving force.

"On an issue such as corruption in sport, governments will not lead. They may follow, if a persuasive case is made out, or if public opinion insists. To make this message more compelling, however, the IOC will first have to drive change within the sports organisations," Pound said.

Click here to read the entire speech

Click here to read more on Richard W. Pound and his take on corruption