Out of concern for the future of FIFA and world football, FIFPro has today created a set of criteria that it believes will have a positive effect on filtering candidates who claim they are capable of leading and transforming the world governing body as FIFA President in 2016 and beyond.
With Monday’s deadline (October 26, 2015) looming large for FIFA Presidential candidates to come forth and officially announce their intention to run in the election scheduled for February 26, 2016, FIFPro believes this will provide an effective basis to help safeguard the process around FIFA’s top elected official.
FIFPro believes there are a minimum four criteria for any new FIFA President:
1. Proven capacity to drive reform of a democratic and politically complex global body
2. Governance record
3. Human rights record
4. Understanding of the game as a sport and business
Suffice to say, the future leader of FIFA has to be a proven reformer, an impeccable figure who passes the most stringent integrity tests - underpined by the highest standards of ethical behaviour, accountability and transparency/honesty - carried out independently, possibly by more than one external body.
Eliminating even the slightest perception of conflict of interest will be a critical part of a robust reform process, as opposed to the charade of self-regulation that has damaged the image of the world’s most popular sport.
All Presidential candidates would need to display a track record of being able to lead, manage change and streamline outdated policies associated with a dysfunctional governance structure and politically complex global organisation such as that of FIFA.
This person will understand football as both a sport and business, including how to apply a flawless governance model which separates politics from commercial activities, such as how to award the World Cup hosting rights, among other fundamential issues. A new FIFA President would also need to show a body of work based on social wellbeing, fairness, democratic values and human rights.
If the candidate in question has not demonstrated these qualities in previous roles, he (or she, even though no female candidates have emerged) should be eliminated from the process without further delay.
A clean break from the past is essential for FIFA to climb out of the toxic pit which continues to produce serious accusations of corrupt behaviour on almost a daily basis. Clearly, the presumption of innocence is a principle that needs to be upheld while various investigations are ongoing.
At the same time, there is no doubt the present mayhem has left FIFA morally bankrupt. FIFPro has previously stated its dissatisfaction as having no confidence in FIFA’s ability to reform from within. Individuals who have played a role in administering the game at the highest level are tarnished with the same brush, which is a sad reality for those who have displayed good intentions.
FIFPro is afraid the current environment engulfing FIFA is not facilitating an effective election process and that it could produce an extremely harmful outcome. Even in the February 26 election date was delayed, it would be delaying the inevitable unless the FIFPro criteria outlined today is accepted as a minimum gold standard in selecting a future FIFA President.
FIFPro, on behalf of the professional footballers it represents worldwide, accepts its responsibility to protect football. This is our game too. The time for politicking is over. FIFPro has no interest in remaining silent when football needs key stakeholders to act and lead by example.
In the end, all stakeholders, including FIFPro, will be held accountable for what they do today to effect change, as a well governed and reformed FIFA is in the best interests of everyone – players, clubs and fans – who has been betrayed by FIFA’s failed past.
- Published: 23 October 2015