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Expert urges FIFA name change

An expert in sports governance has urged FIFA to change its name as one of a number of measures to help draw a line under the ongoing corruption scandal.

World football’s governing body was thrown into chaos last week when 14 people, including nine past and present FIFA officials, were indicted by United States authorities on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and corruption.

Sepp Blatter was re-elected at the subsequent presidential election but announced his attention to stand down on Tuesday, vowing to kick-start the process of reform before his successor is named at an extraordinary congress to be held by March 2016.

And Tom Bruce of law firm Farrer and Co, who regularly advises national and international sports bodies on on a wide range of governance and constitutional matters, has cited key areas for change.

“There are three initial stages to potential reform,” he told Perform. “The first is the change of personnel. We may be already some way down the track on that.

“The second bit would be a change of culture that FIFA obviously needs and would come with a change of personnel.

“The third element, to my mind, is the commissioning of a truly independent review of FIFA’s governance structures.

“That independent review would then make recommendations to FIFA for a sort of root-and-branch-type review of their governance processes.

“And the reason why that’s really helpful is because the incoming president, whoever it might be, can point to a separate independent review and say ‘these are the recommendations’ and it gives him a mandate to begin implementing that reform.

“I think also what would help them, as part of that three-stage change, would be a new name.

“It sounds simple, but trying to draw a complete line under what’s gone on so far and rebrand themselves may be particularly helpful.”

However, Bruce stopped short of predicting the formation of a breakaway body.

“I can’t see that happening,” he added. “I think there will be a governance review and changes implemented within the organisation itself. 

“But at the moment it’s based in Switzerland – I think the Swiss have benefited from FIFA being on its home soil, FIFA is subject there to very little tax or regulation – and I’d be surprised if there was a move to a new entity.

“That is unless UEFA and the European nations boycott their participation in the World Cup or sponsors pull out. Only then I think would there be an opportunity for there to be a new organisation that takes FIFA’s place.

“I think it’s more likely that Blatter will begin to implement some sort of governance review in the period between now and March next year when he leaves.

“It will be fascinating to see whether he does or not. It will certainly get worse before it gets better.

“We will, I think, find that more and more information comes out over the next few weeks and months as to what exactly has gone on over the last 20 years in particular.”

Thu 4 Jun, 2015
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