Cleaning up FIFA: Five steps to a better football body

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Columnist Kendall Tull, a certified management account and industrial management practitioner, explains how he would go about cleaning up FIFA:

Sepp Blatter was not the problem at FIFA.

It is easy to think that Blatter’s departure changes anything since he presided through an era of rampant corruption. But the FIFA president was not the cause, he was a symptom.

Photo: President Barack Obama (left) hosts FIFA president Sepp Blatter (centre) and then vice-president Jack Warner during the United States' ill-fated 2022 World Cup bid.
Photo: President Barack Obama (left) hosts FIFA president Sepp Blatter (centre) and then vice-president Jack Warner during the United States’ ill-fated 2022 World Cup bid.

His departure merely creates a power vacuum at the top that will be filled by the next character vying for power and wealth at our expense. Because it fails to deal with the entrenched problems at the lower levels.

FIFA is in need of deep structural changes that won’t be quick or easy and are guaranteed to be extremely unpopular.

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However, the opportunity to make the changes is here and now and the next year will go a long way towards determining whether we get superficial alterations or real reform.

These, in my estimate, are the five things that need to happen next:

1) Find The Good In Blatter

Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter. (Courtesy Daily
Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
(Courtesy Daily

Not everything Blatter did was wrong. Like ex-president João Havelange before him, he made his power base in the once fringe confederations of Africa and Asia who, rightly or wrongly, perceive that UEFA does not have their interests at heart.

The expansion of the World Cup to include more nations, for example, was good for the global reach of the game as well as the attempt to hold the World Cup outside of the established football nations.

“One country, one vote” must stay along with development of non-traditional football nations. The methodology of that support however is another matter, which will be dealt with more in Part Three.

Europe must build bridges towards the other confederations so as to lessen the culture of rivalries and power struggles, which were exploited to create the current fiefdom.

2) Get the Administrative Structure Right

Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left) and ex-CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left) and ex-CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

This is a far more difficult task than it may sound as it is conflicted by the geopolitical situation in the world and issues of sovereignty and autonomy.

The current arrangement of loose confederations that have little accountability to FIFA cannot continue with the vast sums of money involved. FIFA is a multinational parent with a series of autonomous subsidiaries that are required to account for their stewardship of the game to FIFA.

The current structure gives the president too much executive control—and term limits could be useful here in preventing dynasties. The Executive Committee (ExCo) should absorb some of the president’s authority and, while the president sets the agenda, the ExCo should be in charge of its implementation.

How do you level the playing field with powerful and wealthy UEFA on the one hand and Africa, Asia and CONCACAF on the other side?

One possibility is to rotate ExCo control among the confederations, which may ensure that no one confederation can indefinitely block or control the approvals of programmes that favour another. This might address fears from the Africa and Asia confederations about unilateral control and domination by one body.

3) Rewrite the Income  Distribution Rules

Photo: CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb (centre) with his predecessor Jack Warner (right) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter during happier times for the trio. Warner quit FIFA after being indicted for bribery by the global football in 2011.
Photo: CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb (centre) with his predecessor Jack Warner (right) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter during happier times for the trio.
Warner quit FIFA after being indicted for bribery by the global football in 2011.

It may sound odd to say that when at present, a portion of World Cup profits are distributed to all FIFA member nations. However, that money is split evenly throughout the nations, regardless of size and is a small portion of the overall profits.

So a nation with a population of 10,000 gets an equal share as the US with 320 million people. There has to be a better way.

FIFA funds should be distributed on the basis of budgeted needs and proposed programmes while confederations must account for its use thereafter. Consider this the underpinning of the performance-oriented culture that FIFA has to embrace and implement.

Confederations will protest that their autonomy and sovereignty is being threatened—let them. If you want a piece of the pie, they have to play by the rules.

Confederations, of course, have the ability to raise their own funds—and perhaps there can be an allowance for them to spend up to 20 percent of the budget provided by FIFA as they see fit—but they must still account for the stewardship of those funds to FIFA and meet minimum governance standards to avoid corruption.

4) Accountability is Key

Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (right) and general secretary Jerome Valcke.
Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (right) and general secretary Jerome Valcke.

FIFA needs a robust internal audit function. No longer can its executives and Confederations be allowed to operate as a law unto themselves.

Mechanisms akin to our own Integrity Commission—except that it should actually function—are needed to ensure executives have to declare their assets and cannot amass personal fortunes without being found out.

FIFA and its confederations also need to be governed by the same rules as any major global corporation and its executives must accept their fiduciary responsibilities, like any CEO or CFO in the business world.

A CEO’s duty of care responsibility, for example, means they must consider all of the available information relevant to business decisions, including the advice of experts and employees, and understand and evaluate the company’s day to day operations and terms of agreements.

If you applied this to the FIFA president, there is no question that Blatter breached as his responsibility as he presided over the organisation mired in corruption.

Blatter’s excuse of being unaware or not involved does not absolve him. You need not be guilty of a crime in the traditional sense to breach your fiduciary duty.

FIFA is a billion dollar business and it must be treated as such. There is no other way to make meaningful, sustainable change in an environment where vast sums of money are being managed.

5) Procurement Rules Must Change

Photo: Brazil president Dilma Rousseff (left) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter. (Courtesy Fabrice Coffrini/ AFP)
Photo: Brazil president Dilma Rousseff (left) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
(Courtesy Fabrice Coffrini/ AFP)

The rules for bidding for TV rights and Tournament hosting must change. These are major projects with billion dollar price tags and must be subject to rigorous rules and guidelines.

This isn’t about the bribes, it’s about the process itself.

On the face of it, the World Cup bid process looks good with extensive reviews, site visits and so on to accurately assess a country’s capacity to host the tournament. The Bid Evaluation report for Japan in 2022 seems quite comprehensive.

What isn’t clear from the evaluation is any kind of weighting scheme for ranking the selection criteria, which, in best procurement practice, should be clearly stated in advance to all bidders and cannot be changed during the process.

More importantly, the nature of what the Bidders are competing for and objective need to be clearly outlined. In this case, it was the hosting of a World Cup tournament in the month of June/July.

Qatar understood this, according to the FIFA Evaluation Report. Yet, the Arab nation apparently bid for a June tournament, which it cannot provide.

If Qatar cannot fulfil the requirements of the bid, which is for a June World Cup, the award of the 2022 tournament should be rescinded.

Instead, we have the farcical attempt to completely reengineer the dates to suit Qatar to the detriment of global football leagues. That should never have been allowed to happen.

It is also instructive that the Report did not go into any detail regarding the issue of Qatar’s searing temperatures beyond a cursory mention in the Executive Summary and the Medical Facilities section.

This raises questions about the rigour of Qatar’s bid review in determining the viability of their offer. A lot went wrong here and needs to be addressed.

Photo: Sepp Blatter heads for the exit in Zurich after announcing his intention to step down as FIFA president. (Copyright Valeriano Di Domenico/AFP 2015)
Photo: Sepp Blatter heads for the exit in Zurich after announcing his intention to step down as FIFA president.
(Copyright Valeriano Di Domenico/AFP 2015)

And that’s it, five changes to ensure the beautiful game never finds itself in the mire of corruption that exists today.

The question is, is there the will and strength to do what is necessary? Or will we get more token attempts that do not address the structural changes required and thus fail to alter the status quo?

It won’t be long before we find out.

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About Kendall Tull

Kendall Tull
Kendall Tull is a Certified Management Accountant with the Ontario arm of the Society of Management Accountants and has an Honours degree from UWI in Industrial Management. He has over 20 years of experience in both the private and public sectors in a variety of industries at both CFO and CEO level. He is a former Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) official and captain of the Queen's Park CC and Notre Dame field hockey club.

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  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114
    • He has certainly found the good in Blatter. But then UEFA had done the expansion bit in its own competition. So not surprising that Infantino did same with FIFA World Cup.
      Otherwise, numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 are still in effect. Even worse with 3. FIFA is stuffing pockets at a rate not seen before under any president.

  2. So what will be the five changes for the corrupted TTFA to also finally get it right Kendall Tull. Them really good yes. hahahaha

  3. Once I have clear ideas to work with and a good structure, the rest is simple. 😉

  4. Kudos to Lasana for all his editorial guidance, taking raw thoughts and making it into something much more. My eternal thanks.

  5. Kendall – I said in an earlier comment that I agreed that ppl should do what they say they are going to do with specific reference to Qatar saying that it would have the tournament in June. So we do agree on that principle.

  6. Chabeth – the corruption is a separate issue and has to be dealt with separately. Fixing the process itself won’t address that.

    You are missing the point though which is if you bid to deliver product x and cannot do so after winning the bid, the award should have been revoked. FIFA should not have accepted product y. To do so prejudices all other bidders who offered product x in their bids. Qatar’s bud evaluation clearly stated a June date and so the award was predicated on that assumption.

    Blatter pushed to change the date to accommodate Qatar and he was wrong to do so. I never said to take away the WC from either Russia or Qatar. I am saying that changes are needed to ensure that this nonsense doesn’t repeat itself.

    I can’t explain this any more than I have so we will have to agree to disagree if you feel that the change in date after the award doesn’t invalidate the award.

  7. In the Middle East I think Qatar is the best country

    However due to Qatar disdain for non arab lives I don’t mind they losing the WC

    Russia on the other hand is being victimized because they support Assad

  8. Lasana Liburd, I follow the law. I don’t drive on the shoulder 😉 Gordon Pierre, I need Lebron to be more on point! My heart can’t take these close games.

  9. Kendall, to give a US$10 million dollar bribe is poor procurement practice. The point is FIFA is corrupt. The entire thing is flawed and needs to be overhauled. I agree that the adjusted dates should have been said upfront etc etc. But I don’t know that Blatter et al didn’t know it was going to be shifted to December. Do you? At this point, Russia and Qatar have been awarded their respective WCs by the same process that every other country was, so I think it is unjust to take the competitions away from them at this point.

  10. Failure to take all these issues into account merely reinforces my point Chabeth. The process is flawed and needs to be amended.

  11. Chabeth Haynes tonight u on point like lebron!!! Like u showing off but great points!!

  12. No argument there Chabeth on the human rights issue – you are 100% right. You can read the bid evaluation reports on the FIFA site. If FIFA wants to be more flexible on the dates, that needs to be made clear up front. What they have done instead is shift the goalposts after the game started and that shouldn’t be. I think that there are enough irregularities in the bids process besides the possible bribery scandal to warrant a revocation of the award. It is about being fair in the process and the ethnic and race composition has nothing to do with that. I am sure that they will play that card in an attempt to distract from the issue. You bid for a June tournament which you cannot deliver. At that point, the award should have been voided. To do otherwise is contrary to good procurement practice.

  13. Ahhh… But it doesn’t matter what the law books say about gays in T&T, Chabeth Haynes. Because no one follows the law here!
    Gotcha there 😉

  14. Kendall, I really don’t know what any country’s bid proposal said to know if based solely on the proposals Qatar should have won. My main point is that there should be greater flexibility in the date of the WC so as to automatically disqualify as few countries as possible from hosting the competition. I appreciate the Europeans would be upset that their club leagues are being disrupted but I really don’t know how much of that has to do with the fact that Qatar is a Muslim country filled with people of colour. The WC is the biggest football competition. Apart from which it is a competition of nations. Country must always take precedence over clubs. WC comes every four years, it cannot be that difficult to adjust the calendar to accommodate the WC if it must be held in an unusual time. Additionally, FIFA can simply implement a rule that the WC can only be held outside of the month of June every X number of WCs if it is that big of a deal which I don’t think it is. We’re in 2015, they have 7 years to finish to figure out how to adjust their league schedules. As for the human rights issues, you really want to call Qatar out on that and not Russia? You want to talk about gay rights, it’s illegal to be gay in Trinidad and Tobago. There’s still a law on the books that prevents gay people from entering this country. Didn’t we play hosts to Cricket World Cup? Did you raise concerns about the rights for gays in this country at that time? Human rights record? Didn’t stop China from hosting the Olympics in 08 – which btw was a great Olympics. London’s opening ceremony could not compare. I am a huge advocate of equality across the board – racial, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic equality etc etc. But let’s not be naive and pretend that FIFA or the IOC or anybody takes any of these issues into account when awarding the right to host events. If you want to call Qatar out on these issues, that’s fine, but be fair and call everybody, including Trinidad and Tobago, out on these issues.

  15. Kendall, Lasana … I have always been of the belief that outsourcing is one of FIFA’s biggest issues … FIFA are big enough to have their own media sales division, ticketing department, etc etc … outsourcing contracts of this magnitude leads to a dutch auction, which leads to secret deals, which leads to money, which leads to greed, which leads to corruption … keep it all in-house

  16. Qatar will be fantastic if allowed to go ahead … that being said, they pitched for a WC in their summer with a provision of air-conditioned stadia …

  17. Chabeth – aside from the dates, what about the poor human rights record, the deaths of migrant workers and the intolerance for the gay community? Shouldn’t those issues be of concern?

    As regards to the dates, they were chosen because all major leagues are in the off season at that point in time. There 2as a lot of resentment towards the changes and the impact of all major leagues being disrupted to facilitate the tournament. There are good reasons for not changing the dates but I understand your point. The question is should the dates change to accommodate the few while disrupting the many?

    There are also other countries on the Middle East that can accommodate the June time frame. Should Qatar have won over those? After all, no country has a divine right to host

  18. Kendall, we agree that ppl should do what they say they will do and abide by clearly stated rules. I’m just saying that I think that particular rule about the dates of the WC should be changed to facilitate a greater number of countries being able to host the tournament in a bid to keep/make the sport truly global. I was in Doha last December. Actually saw one of the sites where they are building a stadium. It’s a beautiful city and it was cool enough that I had to wear a fleece hoodie. Of course, those from temperate countries were in shorts. Qatar is actually making a concerted effort to sell itself as an international sporting destination. I really think it will be a great experience to have the tournament there.

  19. Travis Mulraine, of course they all have ulterior motives, they’re all men! Hahaha! Just joking! Thanks for the great discussion gentleman… And well written opinion Kendall Tull…. You provoked us all to think! Good night everybody, off to watch lebron win game 2! 🙂

  20. That is what FIFA has indicated Chabeth. It’s less hot then but as I said, that isn’t the point. If you bid for one thing and then cannot deliver, then the award should have been revoked.

  21. Great points Chabeth Haynes,on the question of women Not after kamla persad-bissesar LoL, but on a serious note just as you say Blatter had ulterior motives for opening up football so do the Europeans and Americans their weapon is the FBI n justice department

  22. Lasana Liburd well they are!! When i heard Mr Gordon CFU president talk about not voting ablock for the FIFA presidency i say these people mad!! Their only strength come in unity!!

  23. Concacaf headquarters was moved from Guatemala? to New York. It should be Moved from NY to Cayman Islands.

  24. There are over a hundred sporting bodies based in Switzerland. I expect them to start moving to Doha or Abu Dhabi if Swiss law causes them “problems.”
    Similarly I think Concacaf is bound to be looking for a new venue outside of the U.S. as we speak.
    It should obviously be in the Caribbean as we have political might in Concacaf.
    If it is anywhere but the Caribbean, then those officials are idiots I think.

  25. Qatar is not hot in December. Aren’t they having it in december? I thought I read that somewhere.

  26. Dates don’t matter. You cannot play in extreme cold nor extreme heat so dome countries will always be barred.

  27. Well I think FIFA should change the date restrictions for the WC as it inherently disqualifies some countries.

  28. Chabeth – That’s why they were based in Switzerland. As I said, they are changing their rules slowly.

  29. The issue with the Qatar bid is if the rules stipulated a tournament in June and that is what everyone bid on, you cannot change the date thereafter in any serious bid process. As to the limitations of weather, you absolutely have geographical limitations. You cannot play in extreme heat or cold. That’s a limitation based of the human capacity to perform.

  30. Kendall, I could see international sporting organisations moving to countries with the least stringent corporate governance structures or countries that would just be willing to turn a blind eye in exchange for whatever. Call me cynical.

  31. FIFA had a rule to rotate the WC through the Confederations but it was rescinded in favour of new rules several years ago.

  32. Chabeth – that’s also why I advocated conforming with the corporate governance structures in the respective jurisdictions. Switzerland has actually begun introducing changes in their laws to address same, born of the experiences with the IOC and FIFA.

  33. Lol. Quotas do help I think Gordon Pierre. It helped players like Ntini get recognized in South Africa cricket and many “black” coaches got a break as a result in the U.S.
    I just feel that quotas should come with an end date. Like five or eight years.
    It will help some people show what they can do who might now have gotten the chance. I don’t mind quotas to break up monopolies.

  34. Hahahahahahaha! Her leadership is NOT indicative of all women! But I was just joking hence the 😉

  35. Chabeth Haynes you was going good all the time!!! Stop that nonsense!! We aint want a worldwide kamlamania!! stop it!!

  36. Yep, something like that Lasana Liburd. Alternatively, we could experiment with filling ALL the top posts of all international sporting organisations with women and see how that works out. 😉

  37. So then Chabeth Haynes, we essentially need something like a WADA to police sporting bodies for corruption? That is a very interesting proposal.

  38. Not bad,but on the Qatar bid. ALL bids have been corrupt according to FIFA ‘s rule I have been to both South Korea and South Africa courtesy their federations stayed in 5 star hotels, wasn’t those gifts to influence Jack to vote in their favor??? So let the Europeans n Americans relax there are more world cups to come ,I would personally like to see Australia and Canada host a WC before England n America get another one

  39. A couple things…I have no problem accepting that Blatter opened up football to the world, but let’s not pretend he did that out of the goodness of his heart. Integrity Commission – like structure that functions properly or not, FIFA cannot be left to account to itself. Nobody can convince me that any arm of FIFA will properly police the organisation. Whatever happened with the Michael Garcia audit? Was it published in its entirety? Weren’t some ex-co members supposed to be investigated or something? Did that happen? Are they still in FIFA? In any case, if you have ex-co members engaging in behaviour that produces smoke, I don’t see how giving them greater power is going to not produce a fire. You want FIFA to be less corrupt, make it account to somebody other than itself.With respect to the whole bidding thing… if the goal is to truly make/keep football a global sport then people need to be more flexible about the dates of the WC. It cannot be that certain parts of the world will be permanently excluded from hosting a WC because of weather restrictions. WC hosts are decided waaaaay in advance of the actual competition. I really don’t see it as a big deal for domestic leagues to rearrange the dates of their competitions to fit an “abnormal” WC date. The Sydney Olympics in 2000 weren’t held at the “usual” time and that’s a multi-sport event. For Brazil 2016, competitions are going to take place at “abnormal” times. If the Olympics can figure it out, surely the one sport of football can as well.

  40. While we on tv rights tho!! CNC3 buy the rights to the women’s world cup and the coverage piss poor and they blocking fox good coverage!! i will have to start an anti flow campaign!!!

  41. I also hope that at Concacaf we (Caribbean) don’t get Marginalized. I have the suspicion that the big three want to have Control over the Confederation.

  42. So developing markets like africa, asia, and caribbean we need to be flexible, but of course it is these federation that corruption is most likely to occur!! Guess my Wi Sports days have me concerned lol

  43. Well written. I like the recommendations. Hopefully we would see true reform at Fifa.

  44. Well we have to be a little flexible with tv rights because in some countries tv right may have no real value for some tournaments but the exposure is priceless for the players and the sport eg the womens caribbean cup, u20 caribbean qualifiers etc

  45. What did you think about the fifth Gordon Pierre?

  46. AA Tull is a boss man! Very good piece did not agree totally with the fifth point tho but great work!! And its
    totally local!!

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