ZURICH: World football federation FIFA has pre-empted a potentially critical Council of Europe debate by agreeing a Memorandum of Understanding with the council covering sports governance and anti-corruption efforts.

Last month two reports from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe were scathing in criticising the “unprecedented loss of trust” in sports governing bodies.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino was criticised directly for sacking independent officials whose inquiries “might have embarrassed him” in a report on football governance by by former PACE president Anne Brasseur,

Now, in Strasbourg, Infantino has met Council of Europe ministers and secretary-general Thorbjørn Jagland to discuss how to better promote human rights in sport. Issues included conventions on anti-doping, match-fixing as well as safety, security and service at football matches.

Infantino said: “It seems clear to me that FIFA and the Council of Europe share many common goals. Good governance, respect for human rights and a resolute stance against doping, match-fixing and violence are a top priority for world football’s governing body.”

Jagland said: “Closer cooperation with FIFA will help to promote respect for human rights in sports both in Europe and worldwide. I am also pleased that FIFA wants to work with us on the subject of governance.

“The role of sports in our society ­– for example, in boosting integration – cannot be underestimated. Good governance will help ensuring that the benefits of sport can be enjoyed by everyone.”

A Memorandum of Understanding could be ready for signature by the end of 2018.

The Council of Europe is due shortly to debate the critical reports.