KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Damian Collins, one of the fiercest critics of FIFA’s corruption culture, is concerned that Gianni Infantino’s first year as president may come to be seen as a year wasted.
Collins chairs the UK parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee. and was a co-founder of the #NewFIFANow pressure group.
But he fears a lack of progress towards reform of both the ethics and auditing controls as well as an essential change of culture.
Collins said: “The initial motivation for change seems to be increasing the distribution of money to member nations – which is a reason for expanding the World Cup. Is that good for the game and the competition or just good for FIFA member associations?
“One thing we would have liked in terms of the investigatory process was for FIFA employees to have been allowed to share information directly with investigators but they can’t do that – they have to go to FIFA first. So that creates a fear among employees of finding they can never work in football again.
“Then there was the issue around Domenico Scala’s resignation and the question of undue influence from the FIFA leadership on the ethics committee. Certainly I don’t see any strengthening of the role of the investigatory committees to make them more independent.
“Infantino is a football politician. He’s grown up within football administration, he’s worked closely with people who have worked closely with FIFA so there’s a question about whether people in very senior positions are still too comfortable.
“As for [secretary-general] Fatma Samoura, it’s great to have a senior woman in the organisation and she has a sound track record but not a commercial background which is important in FIFA where a lot of areas depend on commercial activities.
“The noise around FIFA has calmed down somewhat in the last year but the problems were not just down to wrongdoing by very senior people but a problem of the culture within FIFA and that hasn’t yet changed.
“Will we look on this as having been a wasted year in terms of governance reform? Maybe it will be seen to have been an opportunity that wasn’t taken.”