STRASBOURG: The European Union is being pressed to consider setting up an independent “observatory” to assess governance in football, following a series of scandals in the sport.

The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe has said such a body would be entrusted with assessing governance at FIFA, UEFA and other football governing bodies, including aspects such as the integrity of elections to their governing structures.

“The observatory would not have the power to govern the sport, but to ensure that the principles of good governance are being effectively implemented and shared,” the parliamentarians said in a resolution approved today, based on a report by Anne Brasseur, adding: “Too little money harms football, too much is killing it. We need to prevent football from self-destructing.”

FIFA pressure

The Assembly again called on world governing body FIFA to shed light on the latest procedures for awarding the World Cup, particularly the procedure for awarding the 2022 cup to Qatar, “which appears to be seriously flawed”.

While noting progress on some governance issues at FIFA and UEFA – especially on incorporating human rights into the criteria for selecting host countries and commercial partners – the parliamentarians said problems remain.

They called on the two bodies and their partners to:

• guarantee the full independence of their ethical oversight bodies, notably through transparent procedures for the selection and removal of members and chairs

• introduce effective measures to combat corruption

• do more to insist that countries hosting their events respect basic civil and political rights

• put a stop to “forced transfers” of underage players

• ensure a minimum number of women on the boards of their member associations.

Legislation urged

During the debate  Denmark’s Mogens Jensen said that, above all, the sport movement itself “needs to demonstrate that it is able and willing to take proactive measures in rooting out the culture of corruption and lawlessness within its ranks and to indict those who commit crimes”.

It underlined that it is also the responsibility of governments to create “a robust legislative framework that would enable the prosecution of sports leadership”.

In order to allow proper monitoring and assessment of compliance with good governance standards across the sports sector, the Assembly called for the creation of an ISO certification standard on governance of sports organisations and, at the European level, a Council of Europe Convention on Good Governance in Sport.

This new Convention could complement the existing conventional basis covering doping, match-fixing and spectator violence, bind its member States by the observance of the same harmonised standards, and enable monitoring of their implementation.

Ethics ratings

The adopted text urges the sports world to set up an independent sports ethics rating system, which should be created and operated by third-party professional agencies of impeccable international reputation, similar to existing environmental, social and governance rating agencies.

The lead in setting up such a rating system should be taken by an inclusive international multi-stakeholder platform or alliance, which could be responsible for monitoring, assisting and consulting.

Finally, noting little co-ordinated parliamentary action or international parliamentary partnership in the current debate, the Assembly proposed to consider setting up a Parliamentary Alliance for Good Governance and Integrity in Sport with the aim of bringing together national parliaments and international parliamentary bodies around a meaningful discussion on sports governance and integrity issues.