ZURICH: When, in 2011, FIFA decided on a reform process, it identified its Audit Committee as one area which needed strengthening. Hence it was decided to establish a new Audit and Compliance Committee. This was given greater responsibility with an independent chairman appointed by FIFA Congress at the suggestion of the Independent Governance Committee.
Five months on, chairman Domenico Scala has explained the personal and professional context of his role to the FIFA website, FIFA.com, in this interview:
Question: What is your role within the reform process FIFA has started?
Domenico Scala: FIFA has become a large entity and I think, rightly so, one and a half years ago, FIFA started this reform process where a number of changes are being implemented. Two of the most important changes were approved at the last FIFA Congress, which were the establishment of an independent Ethics Committee and an Audit and Compliance Committee. My role within this reform process is to chair this Audit and Compliance Committee at FIFA.
Precisely what is the scope of action of the new Audit and Compliance Committee?
In every organisation in business, you have a control and oversight and monitoring body which is independent from the activities of the operations. This Audit and Compliance Committee does exactly that – it’s a control and oversight and monitoring function over the activities of FIFA, which it tries to enforce via operational standards. This is the role of the Audit and Compliance Committee.
What is new compared to the previous Audit Committee?
This Audit and Compliance Committee has a much larger scope than the previous Audit Committee. We are responsible for all matters relating to financial reporting and internal control. We will also establish a compliance programme. The organisational regulations also foresee that the Audit and Compliance Committee will have a sub-committee which will deal with compensational benefit.
What will be your primary focus in the future?
I have personally tried to learn about the FIFA organisation, which is a complex one, so I’ve met with a lot of people from FIFA. The Audit and Compliance Committee has already had two meetings. At the first meeting we approved a so-called whistle-blowers system, which we will implement by the end of this year. We have also chartered our task and included that into the organisational regulations, which we have recently reviewed. These organisational regulations will detail how this Audit and Compliance Committee works – these organisational regulations need to be approved by the FIFA Executive Committee. And we will also tackle the development activities at FIFA – that’s a large piece of the activities at FIFA. I attended the last Development Committee meeting at the end of September. We are also defining guidelines for these development activities going forward. So I think we’ve tackled a number of topics in the last five months.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge at FIFA is the way FIFA is organised. FIFA is a summary of its Member Associations, so FIFA belongs to its Member Associations. Therefore we cannot just impose regulations – we have to convince the Member Associations. That’s a big difference compared to a privately organised firm.
Do you think FIFA’s existing auditing procedures are sufficiently robust?
I think there are a number of areas where FIFA has been at the forefront. I think the financial reporting standards are very high. In fact, FIFA reports their financial numbers according to international accounting standards – that’s been the case since 2002, so it has been in a leading position. But there are areas in which I think FIFA can improve. The compliance programme is something, the establishment of a Code of Ethics which regulates all FIFA officials is important. So there’s room for improvement, but I think we’re starting at a very good level.
How does your work for FIFA compare with your previous jobs in the industry?
From a content point of view there’s not much difference, because having good monitoring and oversight standards are very similar within the industry. FIFA is different because it is about football, but FIFA has the commercial reality where it has income and expenses, and this income and expenses need to be monitored in exactly the same way they would be in another firm, so in that extent is the same. But the object of FIFA is much more fun because it’s about football.
What is your connection with football?
I had no previous connection with FIFA. I have also never been a licensed player. But I do play football every Saturday afternoon with my friends when I am at home.
What ultimately convinced you to take on this important role for FIFA?
FIFA is about passion, and I think FIFA has done, over many decades, a lot of good things for football and for the world. What FIFA can do going forward is important. FIFA has to take into account that it has become a large entity that needs a level of governance, and if I can improve it in these areas I think I will have made my little contribution to future of FIFA.
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