PtG Article 10.11.2005

Zen-Ruffinen calls on the public to hold sport organisations accountable

The former general secretary of FIFA, Michel Zen-Ruffinen, today wrapped up the Play the Game conference by stating that international sport organisations need new rules or structures in order to counter corruption and improve governance.

Zen-Ruffinen, famed for reporting examples of mismanagement by FIFA president Sepp Blatter and subsequently had to leave his job in FIFA in 2002, claimed that all the problems of sport governance are well-known but that at the moment, we simply do not have sufficient rules within the organisations to solve them.

"In any sport, when a rule does not work, you make a new rule. But what is valid for the sport itself, unfortunately is not valid for the governance of sport organisations," Zen-Ruffinen said.

He pointed to the problem that the leaders who make the rules all too often have personal interests in maintaining the current rules. Therefore the main suggestion of Zen-Ruffinen was that the people in charge should be subject to strict and objective control.

Zen-Ruffinen, who now works as a lawyer in his native Switzerland, did not comment on FIFA issues but spoke only about sport governance in general, saying that the public opinion and the media hold a big responsibility for changing the state of affairs.

"In sport, the public opinion is too often not concerned with allegations of corruption. It is more concerned with organisations arranging exciting events. Being in sport, we should all try to act as prosecutors," the Swiss lawyer said.

"We should work to make sure that a conference like Play the Game is not necessary in the future, or that at future conferences we are talking about how the game is being played, and not how the game is being put in disrepute."

Michel Zen-Ruffinen, former secretary general of FIFA, held the closing speech at Play the Game 2005.