Fans say no to FIFA reform committee

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Football Supporters Europe (FSE) has turned down the opportunity to sit on FIFA’s Independent Governance Committee (IGC). The IGC has been formed to oversee the work of internal FIFA task forces and their attempts to clean up football’s world governing body.

FSE cited concerns around the nature of the IGC’s formation, independence, transparency, and potential impact. FSE is a democratically structured, grassroots network of football fans with affiliated members in 37 countries across the continent, including the Football Supporters’ Federation.

An FSE statement said: “After evaluating the information provided to us, as an independent and democratically organised body, which holds good governance close to its heart, we have come to the conclusion not to accept the invitation to this committee.”

FSE outlined a number of core concerns including:

  • Governance structures and the quality of independence of the IGC. While FSE said it respected the work and expertise of IGC chairman Mark Piethe, concerns over the committee’s independence remained. Piethe is appointed by FIFA’s Executive Committee – the very group which will be subject to the reform process to be overseen by the IGC itself.
  • The impact of the IGC on the reform process. The IGC will give evidence to FIFA’s Executive Committee in March 2012 after only three one-day meetings. This limited time frame makes it extremely difficult for anyone to gain substantial insight into a large organisation such as FIFA.
  • The lack of transparency and timelines of the invitation process to the IGC. FSE received only two days notice to nominate an individual to the IGC – a near impossible task for a democratically structured, volunteer-led organisation which spans an entire continent. The names of other potential committee members were also withheld, something FSE felt was not conducive to building trust.

Speaking to Paul Kelso in the Telegraph FSE’s Dani Wurbs said: “We had more doubts than hope about the process so we decided to not take part. We want FIFA to reform and would be very happy to be proved wrong. We will be the first to admit it if it turns out we have made a mistake.”

It is not just supporters who have serious concerns over FIFA’s IGC process. Transparency International, the global coalition against corruption, also refused to take part in the process because of concerns that IGC chairman Mark Piethe would receive consultancy fees of more than €100,000.

Sylvia Schenk, senior advisor for sports at Transparency International: “To ensure impartiality, FIFA cannot appoint members of the Independent Governance Committee if they have previously paid them for work. FIFA can hire anyone it has previously paid to support and advise the group, but not to sit on it as a member.”

In July the FSF argued that FIFA had lost all credibility and submitted an emergency motion to that effect at FSE’s annual conference. Among other things the motion called for the suspension of FIFA’s presidential elections and the appointment of an independent commission to investigate all recent allegations and report the results publicly.

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