KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY
— Remember the FIFA reforms? Sepp Blatter’s project to come up with the answer to life, the universe and everything? Good news is that proposals for change will emerge from a multiplicity of task forces at the world federation’s congress in Budapest later this spring.
Hopefully these will include suggestions to clarify the role of the secretary-general. That appears more necessary than ever after the entertaining spat between Jerome Valcke and the organisers of the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and Co, told they needed “a kick up the backside,” showed a great deal more indignant fire and fury in response than has ever been evident in the work to progress the actual central job in hand.
Valcke and Blatter were then happily able to use their subsequent ‘apologies’ as further opportunities to lambast the Brazilians in public over the failure to seal the legally essential World Cup Law and the painfully slow infrastructure overhaul.
The role of Valcke here is crucial because he is FIFA’s World Cup progress-chaser, reprising the job forced on him in the run-up to the World Cup finals in South Africa in 2010.
Question is: Should this be the all-consuming duty of the secretary-general at a time when football and FIFA itself face a myriad challenges in terms of development, expansion, finance, governance, etc.
Former president Joao Havelange always likened FIFA to a worldwide enterprise on the scale of the Ford motor company. But would the most senior administrative executive of a major multinational have the majority of his time and focus taken up with one specific project?
Overseeing the organisation of a World Cup is a major single task, not least because this is FIFA’s only source of revenue. It’s enough of a challenge to demand the entire focus of one senior figure, undistracted by all the other responsibilities of secretary-generalship.
Just think: If FIFA had a World Cup supremo working under Valcke they could give the Brazilians an even harder kick up the backside.
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