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Why FIFA should pay association presidents to address corruption

The charges laid against the presidents of several football associations would suggest that FIFA needs to light a candle rather than curse the darkness when it comes to regulations regarding the presidency of its member associations.

Photo: Former CONCACAF president Jeff Webb (right) has a word with suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Webb was charged with several counts of racketeering and money laundering by the United States Department of Justice while Blatter was suspended over a disloyalty payment to suspended UEFA president Michel Platini.
Photo: Former CONCACAF president Jeff Webb (right) has a word with outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Webb was charged with several counts of racketeering and money laundering by the United States Department of Justice while Blatter was suspended over a disloyalty payment to suspended UEFA president Michel Platini.

The high number of CONMEBOL and CONCACAF presidents and ex-presidents who have been charged in the chain of corruption scandals is a direct result of the FIFA playbook of football administration. In the old FIFA, dabbling in TV rights was the cash cow that kept football leaders fat while the real workers and technicians in the game remained lean and, in many cases, hungry.

Given the sumptuous trough from which the world’s top football administrators all fed, none needed to be paid an actual salary. All were guaranteed more than their fill from the built-in value chain of FIFA’s football conglomerate which involved TV rights, vote-buying, merchandising and the slew of deals related in hosting the World Cup.

This is the reason why Jack Warner can claim his position of innocence. More than most, he knows that when it came to voting, it was the big boys of FIFA who set the rules for all association presidents, whether it involved cash, gifts or friendly matches.

Any attempt at imposing a new, corruption-free football order will have no chance of success unless it eradicates the built-in opportunities for self-enrichment masquerading as football volunteerism. The system is not just tempting; it is designed to lure people like the unpaid football association presidents of the Caribbean and Central American.

Photo: Former FIFA vice-president and Guatemala football president Rafael Salguero faces extradition to the United States for racketeering and money laundering. (Copyright Soy502)
Photo: Former FIFA vice-president and Guatemala football president Rafael Salguero faces extradition to the United States for racketeering and money laundering.
(Copyright Soy502)

A reformed FIFA must pay monthly salaries to the presidents of member associations, so that they can focus full-time on the business of the football federation.

This is even more relevant to the Caribbean region where CFU nations struggle to generate income to fund programmes and pay salaries, bonuses and so on to keep national teams active and alive.

The time, expertise and energy needed for such demanding work should be compensated for by FIFA in an accountable and transparent manner. The corruption scandal should make it clear to FIFA that it can no longer pretend to be looking the other way while people pay themselves out of the proceeds of corrupt activities.

As the world’s governing body for football, this is a cost that FIFA must bear. Salaried payments cannot be left up to fickle governments and private corporations, all of whom come on board only when national teams are on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup and the hard work and heavy investment are already made.

Photo: Former TTFF president Oliver Camps (right), outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter (centre) and 2010 LOC deputy CEO Nataki Kerr. (Courtesy TTFA)
Photo: Former TTFF president Oliver Camps (right), outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter (centre) and 2010 LOC deputy CEO Nataki Kerr.
(Courtesy TTFA)

The presidents of the CFU should not have to divide their time and energy between the serious but unpaid work of football administration and their private means of earning a living. Running a national association is a full-time job.

Post-Jack Warner, the CFU was not able to gain sponsorship for any of its major tournaments. Where are all the companies who said they did not want to get involved in football because of the likes of Jack Warner?

With a new football leadership set to emerge, the Caribbean must unite again under a new and vibrant team. Our collective vote must be aimed at addressing needs that are relevant to our people and to the game in our region.

We must set our agenda and speak to global football in one voice. That voice must not be afraid to speak because its presidents had to beg, borrow, deal and steal to administer football under self-defeating conditions of compromise.

Photo: Disgraced former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb (centre) with his predecessor Jack Warner (right) and outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter during happier times for the trio. Warner and Webb have both been indicted for racketeering by the US Department of Justice while Blatter was suspended by FIFA.
Photo: Disgraced former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb (centre) with his predecessor Jack Warner (right) and outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter during happier times for the trio.
Warner and Webb have both been indicted for racketeering by the US Department of Justice while Blatter was suspended by FIFA.

I say that the journey starts with independent and competent presidency in the member associations.

What say you?

About Jamaal Shabazz

Jamaal Shabazz
Jamaal Shabazz is the Guyana National Senior Team head coach, founder and technical director of Morvant Caledonia United and ex-head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago men's and women's senior teams. He helped steer T&T to second place at the 2012 Caribbean Cup, Guyana to an unprecedented 2014 World Cup qualifying semifinal berth and Caledonia to its first CFU Club Championship title in 2012. He is a member of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen group that staged an unsuccessful coup in Trinidad in 1990.

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80 comments

  1. Monthly stipend for time ,phone gas oficce stuff ………zero

    • What do you think Bridg? Should TTFA president and board members get salary? Stipend? Or thank you?

    • Should get fixed allowance , pay traveling ,phone,entertainment with relevant bills ,invoice and approval by board. Condition that a designated amount of hours per month spent on TTFA business

    • How do you tally that? It would mean more man hours for employees to verify.
      I’m fine with a fixed stipend that is meant to cover/help pay for certain expenses like travel and phone. I won’t try to get too scientific though.
      Because then we end up with a waste of time committee like the Integrity Commission. 🙂

    • I hear you but at least a board must have some control and oversight. It is here that a proper budget will bring some effect to cost control . This will require planning and will involve the members in some process and structure and having tangible benchmarks and timelines for accountability.

  2. i am Chairman of a zone in SSFL went to meeting today 9.30 to 2.00 saw avout my owngas and parking went home for lunch.

  3. The corrupt paying the corrupt. LMAO!!!

  4. Truly believe NSOs and NGOs should legally be required to spend no more than some threshold on administration, 15-25% possibly . Let the majority be spent on programs and athletes.. it simplifies things in my view, while putting the focus where it should be. At least then we all could have a more sensible apples to apples comparison when reviewing their effectiveness and productivity.. just my view

  5. I might be comfortable with administrators being compensated when the NSO has so much money that it’s spending wastefully on development and grassroots programs.
    Until then… Ppl need to volunteer.

  6. Lasana. THe original memorandum and articles made it clear (Pat Rousseau should confirm this since he drafted it and managed the incorporation of the WICB) that the Board is a non-Executive Board and the Directors including the President were non-Executive. The Executive head was the CEO who was in charge of the Management- the group that would execute the policies of the Board. I understand that Dave is paid. This means the original Memo and Articles were amended and this could only have been done with the Board’s consent.

  7. Do presidents of any NSOs get paid? Here or anywhere?
    But I really don’t think a salary inherently addresses corruption.
    Politicians get paid.
    There will always be somebody who want more than his/her just due.

    • I don’t know about cricket. Anthony Deyal or Bruce Aanensen, does cricket board presidents get paid? Or the WICB president?

    • They never did, but Pat Rousseau said in an interview about 6 months ago, that Cameron is paying himself. The constitution does not allow this.

    • It would be good to hear this from the TTOC with regards to Olympic organizations. I did attend a meeting last year and I’m certain someone from the UK’s Olympic Committee said some sort of remuneration is in place & when rules or ethics [corruption] are broken…they are hauled before the courts. But then again those cultures may be stricter at doing what is right.

  8. It’s strange that the President doesn’t get some sort of salary, this limits the field to ppl who have lucrative jobs that can afford the time to work as Federation Presidents surely?

  9. ..A stipend is all they should have. The GS is supposed to run the show anyway. I have seen what happens when a president comes in for a salary..

    • Like US$1,000 per month perhaps?

    • For that to be fair, the board of directors should receive a stipend for meetings attended I think.
      The question is if that will lead to better representation and better representatives.

    • ..Exactly. And that should be whatever the Association considers to be reasonable. But not a salary..

    • Keith – I think that they should revisit compensation structure of the FA’s board (even if it is non-executive) and that the president & the board should definitely receive a incentive of some sort and a significant one at that. In my opinion, they are the people that are responsible for creating and overseeing the strategy for development of football in our country.

      I do not think that they should be involved in the day to day management of the FA, but ultimately they are held responsible for the success/failure of the initiatives of the FA. I think that they should be treated (financially) just as any other CEO or executive team is, and similarly, their incentives must be performance related and they must be held accountable for delivering what they have committed too.

      The objectives/timelines for the FA can also be set out and agreed upon by the its member associations beforehand, and be as specific & measurable as possible so that there is no ambiguity when it comes to assessing the performance of the president & the board in their role. Also, by offering competitive compensation packages, we can attract more talented candidates from a wider pool of people who previously would never have considered the role.

    • Dominic Lau, one important thing is that we shouldn’t confuse the role of the president and the CEO. Remember this isn’t at all unusual. It is true that the president has responsibility for direction of the FA. But it is not the president’s job to run the show.
      And I don’t think it should be. I think there are problems with executive presidents too.
      I think the system of governance we have is one that works everywhere. But we have never really tried it. Properly.
      An executive president is the sort of strong arm leadership model we should be running from.
      Stipend? Yes. Salary? No.
      That’s my opinion on this now. It has only hardened under this executive.
      You want to give this president MORE power? ?

    • Not at all, which I why I specifically said “even if it is non-executive.” The CEO/MD should be responsible for all things related to the daily operations of the FA. The President and the board should have no say in that regard – I fully believe in that. But it is also why we should review the current compensation structure – what is the incentive for the board to ensure that we meet our objectives? The goodness of their hearts? Not sure that will apply in this day and age, especially when we are trying to foster and environment of transparency and end the corruption that has plagued the FA in years gone by.

    • Well, if it were a neighborhood watch group, we would know what the incentive is. It should be the same for board directors who are there only because they are football men to begin with.
      That’s why I am only halfway there on remuneration.

    • And the football men are only there because there is no reason for anyone else to be there. I have no interest in being on a board for the National Tiddly Winks Association, however, if I am qualified and someone says to me “Hey, we think you’re qualified to help move the game of Tiddly Winks forward, we’ll pay you $100k a month to be on the board and help us to do that” you can bet your bottom dollar that I would be alot more open to joining the board.

      Being a football man doesn’t necessarily mean one automatically understands the business of football … or business in general. The reality is that even though they may want the best for football, unfortunately they may not know the best way to go about doing that which can only be to the detriment of the sport.

      It’s also the reason that I think the member associations need to play an integral part in setting the agenda for the FA. They should act as a unified body to which the board is held accountable and can take them to task if they are not delivering, not the other way around.

      Also, many so-called football men also have a strange habit of talking alot without too much actually getting done. I prefer to judge good leaders on results and not rhetoric.

    • The board is stipulated to meet once in two months. The president is chairman of the board. What do you think is a good stipend/salary for the president and board members? Are you proposing TT$100,000 a month for one board meeting a month at the most? That can’t be practical.
      A board meeting means you are giving up two or three hours a month. You think people should have a living wage for that?

    • You are assuming that the board stipulations remain the same but as I said, it’s going to take a review of the current structure. Also, how much is the development f football really worth to us?

      I judge worth not by time spent, but by value added as I have seen people spending hours a day getting nothing done, and people spending short amounts of time being extremely productive

    • I have given my time for free before and would do it again. A stipend is nice. But my personal view is it should not be beyond that.
      And Dominic, how can you change a structure that has never been used before?
      Trinidadians always talking about reforming laws that they don’t use in the first place. Step one: apply current laws.
      Step two: review after laws have been implemented for a fair period of time.

    • This is where my naivety comes in I guess. I am not entirely familiar with the inner workings of the current structure or laws, and I am only going on my personal view that more could have been done to develop football over the last few years.

      But it begs the question, why haven’t the proper laws been followed? Is it a people issue or a process issue? My gut feeling tells me people and if that is the case, then we need to establish a structure that encourages the interest of the right people who are willing to abide by those laws which to me returns to the matter of compensation.

      And with all due respect Lasana, people like Keith, yourself and a few select others are the exception and not the norm i.e willing to give of your free time AND also hold yourselves accountable to a specific set of deliverables. Whilst I may not always agree with your positions, I do trust that if men like yourselves were given the task of reforming football that it would be done according to the rules and in a democratic, principled & transparent manner.

      That being said, I still stand by my position that football will never attract the talent needed to take it forward unless the incentive is worth it, no matter how passionate one may be about the sport.

    • ..Thanks for the vote. LOL. And I agree Sport needs to motivate young, talented, educated, people to come in by providing good career opportunities for them. Other than that – forget it..

  10. Change, as Gandhi asserts, ‘comes only when the requester becomes the change they wish to see.’ And for there to be change, it must have come from as outside-in “force”, centripetally, that impacts the inside in order for the inside-out conveyances to have its centrifugal impact evenly and concentrically dispersed, felt and understood. Can any of these FIFA and respective Federations or Associations, executive aspirants empty themselves of themselves so as to allow change to sincerely and effectually take place? Hardly! This would require a “baptism of fire” and conversion of the soul! Is this possible? Anything with God is! Change can take place another way and that is through total demolishing and gutting out all traces of “familial” genes of the existing/old order. And this, you will not see unless the likes of a 2005 “Katrina” hurricanes its way (in the Gulf Coast) or a 1692 “Port Royal” earthquakes and drowns out (in Jamaica) Zurich. These two sites were known for their “sin-city” wickedness – can this happen to the “Beautiful Game’s” Capital.

  11. Chabeth between 1988 and 1996, a flood of Caribbean nations were given full membership into FIFA and it changed CONCACAF forever.
    Jack Warner had the political skills and support to take advantage of that. But the tipping point was created by then president Havelange, who Warner often refers to as a father figure.

  12. Chabeth. Actually, we had ONE Mexican president (Terrazas) prior to Jack. Then Jeff Webb. Hawitt was appointed. So the CFU actually leads the CONCACAF electoral stakes. And the next CONCACAF president is going to be Gulati of the USA. Take it to the bank..

  13. I hear you Lasana, but as with Keith LL, I believe that the system is ridden and sickened with pushes and pulls, tits for tats, and the FIFA “bribeonic” dirty hands, impure hearts plague that a flush out and full-fledge transfusion of the incumbent, next-tier aspirants (for the top spots) would be the least that is necessary. Like any plague, it must be killed at its core until we are certain of all to be of pure blood. An example – I have a close-enough friend who claims to be one that abhors corruption and will forever stand strong and tall in his mission to annihilate it. But as conversations widen and deepen, we found out that he confesses to one weakness, his lust for the opposite sex and beautiful female. He is also a multiple-married man. Slightly ajar doors allow drafts to seep in and eventually, the room of righteousness and good intention will be????? The drumbeat, over whichever continent to, “who is guarding the guard”, seems to be a never-dead, axiom. If we pay the Presidents, they are in bondage – the Pied Piper syndrome – enticed people are to follow, especially to their doom.

  14. ..Yes, but it actually did a serious way under Jack Warner. That’s why he scaled the heights he did. For two decades the world came courting Jack and the CFU. Problem is he he plumbed depths too. But give Jack his proverbial jacket..

    • Jack definitely understood how the system works and charmed his way to the top. But it took Caribbean countries almost three decades to figure out that one of its own should be head of CONCACAF. And I don’t know all the presidents of CONCACAF, but I’d be willing to bet that we’ve had more Latin American presidents than Caribbean.
      And given that we went from Webb back to a Honduran guy, it wouldn’t surprise me if we end up with another Latin American whenever the next elections are held. And it should always be a Caribbean person. Across all sports that have similar block grouping.

  15. Good luck getting the Caribbean to unite. Couldn’t happen in the 60s for Federation. Couldn’t happen in 2015 for Nakhid. Perpetual fight down each other syndrome…

  16. Jamaal let us keep working at this level to get the much need changes to the way football been administrated in the region.

  17. The Associations need to establish a proper governance structure, with a trained financial management unit and internal auditors.

  18. So wait, are association presidents not paid a salary for running their country’s footballing federation?!

  19. ..FIFA statutes do not allow a paid presidency..

  20. I think i know the answer – but for clarity sake Are European FA presidents working for free/voluntary?

  21. ..Lasana, the president is chairman of the board. The GS or (CEO), in charge of daily business, is hired by the FA, not the president. Realistically, it is the GS who does the work. The president just needs to mind the store..

    • Only the president has the authority to propose the hiring and termination of the general secretary.
      So the fact that the FA hires him or her is only a technicality.
      And minding the store is no light task I think. And that isn’t counting loads of meetings that the president needs to attend, particular in a FA like ours with so many issues.

    • ..Nah. The president cannot hire anyone. Only recommend. And I dont underestimate the presidential role. But it is precisely the one manism of the past that led us into this shit..

    • But if he is the only person who can recommend a general secretary to be hired then…
      It is like saying the president selects the Cabinet because he swears them in.

    • ..The president authority in appointing Cabinet is ceremonial. The FA board’s authority is real and greater than the FA president’s. But ok..

  22. Excerpt from Gab Marcotti’s 30 footballing wishes for 2016; 3rd on the list, ” That folks understand that the best we can hope for with FIFA reform isn’t something that will make football administrators more honest (or more competent) but rather a set of changes that will make it harder for them to be dishonest or administer badly. I don’t mean to be overly cynical here, but that’s the whole basis of laws and regulation. They don’t make bad people good; they make it tougher for bad people to behave badly, they encourage so-so folks to behave well and they help ensure good people continue to behave like good people.”

  23. There is never any ironclad protection against corruption. I agree with that. But consider that the president hires the general secretary who makes between TT$40,000 and TT$50,000 a month.
    I can easily see the potential for mischief when an employee earns more than the boss.

  24. ..Football presidents ALL have a job. But we are not discussing good administration here. We are an anti-corruption measure. And a full time presidency, in and of itself, offers NO protection against corruption..

  25. ..Football presidents ALL have a job. But we are not discussing good administration here. We are an anti-corruption measure. And a full time presidency, in and of itself offers NO protection against corruption..

  26. Maybe a salary for the job is a necessary but not sufficient condition for non-corruption. Transparency and watchdogs who bark are a necessary and more like sufficient.

  27. I agree that corrupt people will still be corrupt. But maybe people who are honest but need to earn a living cannot consider a non-paying job.
    And, if they saw a transparent salary, they might be willing to contest the post.

  28. ..No. It won’t. First, why should FIFA pay an association president? CEPEP mentality. Second, any president, paid or unpaid by FIFA or anyone else, who wants to engage in corrupt acts will do so. It is not about money. It is about principles, ethics, morality..

    • It’s about transparency and accountability. It must start with a complete overhaul of how FIFA does business and must be agreed upon by a majority of member countries. It doesn’t matter who you put as an association president. If FIFA remains accountable only to itself and transparency nothing but a mirage, association presidents remain susceptible to corruption..

  29. And a few watchdogs to keep them in good order.

  30. I do feel that transparent ways to earn a living in this profession might attract better presidents. And not just people who can do the job without need for a salary or people who intend to make money through illegal means.

  31. Hahaha. I doubt they would agree.

  32. I would prefer it they paid Lasana Liburd, who has been addressing corruption for the past decade at least.

  33. Keith Look Loy, would this help?