KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- One of FIFA’s original reform gurus has likened the world federation’s repetitious behaviour with Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.

Michael Hershman, a co-founder of Transparency International, was a member of the independent governance committee created in 2011 under the leadership of Basel specialist Mark Pieth.

The Home of FIFA . . . more trouble ahead

In a blog published through TheHill [] Hershman also derided the prospect of UEFA president Michel Platini succeeding outgoing Sepp Blatter in world football’s top job next February 26.

Hershman quoted Einstein’s definition as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results” in reviewing Blatter’s insistence on creating yet another reform commission; the composition of the latest incarnation, to be led by former IOC director-general Francois Carrard, was announced in midweek.**


Members have all been nominated by the six regional confederations whose relationship with FIFA itself has emerged as increasingly dysfunctional and a breeding ground for the allegedly corrupt behaviour which has seen senior directors kicked out of the game and/or detained in Switzerland and the United States.

Reviewing the vicious circle of FIFA’s reform attempts, Hershman recalled the ‘safe hands’ advisory report from Transparency International and the subsequent work of Pieth’s panel in recommending the appointment of independent members to the exco and term limits for the president and exco to encourage “greater transparency and accountability.”

Coming up to date, Hershman added: “Now FIFA wants to establish a new task force made up of representatives from the confederations and federations within FIFA to recommend reforms. Does this not sound like the Einstein definition of insanity?”

New leadership from outside the inner ‘magic circle’ was essential to enact real reform.

Hershman said: “This will not happen until it has new leadership – a new president, a new secretary-general and new more progressive and independent members of the executive committee.

Standards code

“After years of scandal we cannot expect change to really happen through mere promises. Along with a new code of standards must come a change in culture and this will only happen with leadership which has not been part of the problem.”

This was a reason why Platini, a FIFA vice-president since his accession to European power in 2007, would be the wrong choice to succeed Blatter.

Hershman warned: “If the stakeholders of FIFA really want to see credibility and respect return to the organization, it should not look to someone like Michael Platini, who has been a long time member of the executive committee, a protégé of the current president and an opponent of reform – someone who still thinks that creating another task force for reform is the way forward.”

** Albert Einstein’s definition is generally accepted as the varied “doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

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