LONDON: Two of the co-founders of FIFA reform advocacy group #NewFIFANow, Damian Collins MP and Jaimie Fuller, have today welcomed the publication of a book by the third co-founder, Bonita Mersiades, which gives an account of the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process.
The book entitled Whatever It Takes – the Inside Story of the FIFA Way gives an ‘insider’ account of the failed Australia 2022 bid, of which Mersiades was a member, and also involves significant subsequent research and investigation.
“As much as FIFA may want to consign the World Cup bidding process of 2018/2022 to history, it’s absolutely clear that there remains too much that is opaque,” said Collins.
“This is not about changing the decisions that were made about Russia and Qatar, but about shining a light on, and learning from, what went on and dealing with it properly. In other words, some genuine transparency.
“It is unacceptable that FIFA has failed to properly pursue the findings of its own investigation conducted by Michael Garcia, or demand of all the bidders from that contest that they cooperate,” Mr Collins said.
Fuller added that FIFA spent upwards of USD$50 million on the Garcia Inquiry, released in June last year, yet very little has come of it.
“Garcia could not compel witnesses or follow money trails, but he nonetheless found significant areas of wrongdoing into some bids – including the Australian bid. None of the bids, or the individuals associated with them, have been called to account,” Fuller said.
“These people violated FIFA ethics rules, and brought the game into disrepute but nothing has happened.
“Instead, the only two people that Garcia’s report shamefully disparages are the two women regarded as whistleblowers, one of whom is Bonita.
“The book makes a compelling case for how these two women were falsely and inappropriately denigrated, not just in terms of what they said but in terms of the way they have been treated by international football officialdom,” Fuller said.
Collins said #NewFIFANow would write to FIFA this week to call on them:
Collins said there are also some broader issues that need to be considered by governance experts and the football community.
“Bonita’s book makes it clear that ‘development’ is the elephant in the room of FIFA operations.
“While we note that some new processes have been introduced into FIFA, there is still not sufficient independence between the policies formulated by the football politicians and the decisions made on funding. We would like to see these funding decisions separated from the football politicians and in the hands of independent assessors and senior-level staff at FIFA,” Collins said.
Fuller added that there remains a need for fundamental structural reform at FIFA.
“The way FIFA is organised, structured, and the voting process for positions of power, mean that too many people rely on staying in power by bestowing favours or turning a blind eye to what goes on.
“The book shows this to be the case in respect of the past, and there is absolutely nothing that has changed at FIFA that fixes this,” Fuller said.
Collins and Fuller said #NewFIFANow will also be recommending to FIFA that they conduct a stocktake of FIFA’s member associations and confederations on the extent to which they meet even the basic 2016 reforms.
“We congratulate Bonita on this book. It is extraordinarily courageous in light of all that she has already been through at the hands of FIFA as well as the local football federation in Australia,” Fuller said.
“We stand with her in asking the fundamental question: what is FIFA going to do to ensure that none of this ever happens again.”