I N T E R V I E W f r o m K E I R R A D N E D G E
—- The executive committee of world football federation sat down together in Tokyo today facing one of the most intensely-packed agendas for a long time. It is not so much the listing of 20 items on the schedule but the intensity of some of them – including not only reports on all recent competitions but the state of play on the reform process*.
Youngest member of the exco is the Asian FIFA vice-president, Prince Ali of Jordan, who is hoping for signs under Item 15 from German exco member Theo Zwanziger that significant steps forward are certain to be placed before FIFA Congress next spring in Mauritius.
That is the Congress which has been assigned to put a conclusive fullstop on the reforms, for good or ill. The various task forces created after the contentious 2011 Congress have completed their tasks and their conclusions then went before a meeting of the six confederation general secretaries. It is the results of their meeting on which Zwanziger will report.
Prince Ali has his own particular views about the state of the reform process and other crucial issues – as told to this writer.
Is the reform process going too slowly?
The process is moving, I do believe that. One of the main issues is that the executive committee was not part of the process which, I think, is fair and acceptable and diligent though we have received a brief about the workings right now.
I am optimistic that it will go through. Just looking at some of the names on the different committees I’m quite optimistic that they will do the right thing. The most important thing is for FIFA to embrace and recognise what they come up with in terms of the reform process.
Should the nature of the reforms be copied down into the confederations?
The confederations will have their own opinions on that. I think, having been elected from Asia, that the different confederations have different formulas as to their representation and I respect that.
I’m more concerned that the FIFA executive committee should be more representative. One example: Asia is, in my opinion, under-represented in terms of our size and contribution to the sport and in all aspects.
At the same time I would like to see – and I have stated it before – a representative from team managers, from the players union as well as from referees. I think that’s crucial. To me that would be real reform within the executive.
Wouldn’t that make the executive committee too big?
Not really. We added one more seat for a woman . . . and I don’t see that three more places would be a big increase. If you think of decisions about the World Cup and so on then I would like to hear the players’ opinion and the team managers’ opinion and the referees’ opinion so they should all have their representatives. That’s common sense. Other than that the confederations all have the right to be there, too.
What about the British vice-presidency?
I see no problem with it. It’s fine that there are traditions and that, to me, is not really a big deal. To me a lot of this is about politics rather than about what makes sense.
Getting into the issue of vice-presidencies doesn’t make sense to me; not even age limits and so on. These are deflecting the focus from the real issue which is representation and having the right people in the right place to make the right decisions to help this organisation move forward.
One other major issue concerns matchfixing and corruption in sport. Who should provide the lead in the fight here?
One on hand from FIFA but, to be fair, this is not just a FIFA issue.
That’s why we made the suggestion to have an index to rank football associations or federations but it to be outside FIFA, a bit like Transparency International . . . It could also support member associations to tackle their own governments and law enforcement agencies, saying: ‘This is our country’s reputation, clean it up.’
In terms of priorities for governments and law enforcement agencies, matchfixing is not going to come very high on their agenda so that means putting politicians and law enforcement agencies in the spotlight and this is one way of doing it: to have an index ranking the least corrupt to the most corrupt countries in terms of football.
I proposed it at the last FIFA executive committee meeting in September in Zurich. Obviously, it’s just an idea right now. Nobody was against it, let’s put it that way and let’s see where it takes us. It’s on the table but it’s not a FIFA decision.
If it’s going to be independent we need at least to identify an independent body that can do it with a good reputation and support it them with all the information that we have from FIFA and the confederations.
Education is very important. There are a lot of initiatives out there but it’s a tough issue to tackle.
The other thing I see is it’s always the players who get penalised and punished – and not just in football – not the clubs, not the managers, but it’s the complete country that needs to be held accountable or taken down in cases – it needs to be a global effort.
Should this mean creating be a WADA-type organisation?
A private company or an NGO can come in and do the work but not another governing body. We have enough of those.
# # #
** Absent from the exco were Chuck Blazer, Nicolás Leoz, Jacques Anouma and Vitaly Mutko
# # #