KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY —- FIFA should be red in its corporate face after a reminder of the distance it must yet travel down the reform road was delivered by the international cycling federation, of all people.
The UCI, under past president Pat McQuaid, had outstripped every other sports governing body in its refusal to face up to its devils: Doping, doping, political manipulation and more doping.
New president Brian Cookson faces a gargantuan job in replacing cynicism with support.
He made a start by changing the senior staff. At the weekend he took a second step at the weekend by announcing that he would be paid 340,000 Swiss francs. He noted that this was 110,000 less than McQuaid had been paying himself as executive president.
Cookson’s decision to turn transparency from a word into an action has put both FIFA and the International Olympic Committee on the back foot.
FIFA refuses to divulge the emoluments paid to president Sepp Blatter and senior directors; all six candidates for the IOC presidency insisted they would do the job for free (assuming the expenses allowance to be generous).
So the two major powers in world sport are led by Sepp (won’t say) Blatter and Thomas (won’t pay) Bach.
The pay issue at FIFA is symbolic.
Reform consultant Mark Pieth made the point to FIFA Congress last May. He told Blatter and his executive committee plus leaders of the 209 national associations that the world would remain sceptical about such a suspiciously secretive culture.
Pieth said: “A worldwide sports governing body such as FIFA has similarities to an inter-governmental organisation and transparency is a key requirement.
“A key remaining issue is transparency is the remuneration of key officials. These did not come overnight for other organisations either but here FIFA needs to catch up.
“I would like to invite the president and members of the executive committee to take this step as it would send a crucial message to their constituencies and to the wider public that they have nothing to hide.”
Off stage Pieth expressed his irritation that Blatter and Co just did not ‘get it.’ Already Alexandra Wrage of Trace International had quit the independent governance committee in frustration at FIFA’s internal obstacle course.
Pieth has urged FIFA’s major sponsors and Swiss politicians to step up pressure for reform. He does not hold out a lot of hope and decided recently to step down at the end of the year.
This is four months before FIFA votes on the last details of reform. These items concern age and term limits. Since Blatter would want such regulations adopted lower down the food chain it is a pretty safe bet that the concepts will be given short shrift.
Transparency on pay will not even make it on to the agenda.
Those pressing for such a demonstration of the need for reform are just peddling uphill.