In the past decade a worrying number of scandals across many sports have hit the headlines. Bad governance and corruption damage not only the image of sport, its federations and representatives, but compromise the positive influence sport has, especially on young people, in spreading the values of good sportsmanship and Olympism.
Sport allows billions of people – be they professional athletes, supporters or amateurs playing for pleasure and health – to experience great emotion, to learn the value of fair play and the importance of rules, and to develop respect for others.
When football’s governing body, the International Federation of Association Football (Fédération Internationale de Football Association – FIFA), as well as its confederations, national federations and clubs worldwide, take steps to build integrity, they do more than prevent corruption within their own organisations: the positive impact of their example reverberates globally.
This is the unique responsibility that comes with sports governance today. Failure to meet that responsibility is an abuse of trust, a corruption that robs football of the values and essence that make it so popular.
Transparency is a first line of defence against corruption. By operating transparently, organisations communicate their values and policies to the people they represent and to the public, and show their values translated into action. Transparent organisations set a tone of openness, accessibility and accountability for others to follow, building confidence among stakeholders that they are treated and engaged in an equitable and responsible manner. Not only do open policies and processes enhance an organisation’s reputation, they also deter corruption.
In the past 18 years Transparency International has brought many groups to the table to discuss the importance of developing strong anti-corruption and anti-bribery codes and practices. Our approach is one of consultation and collaboration.
In politics, administration and business, money and power have the potential to corrupt the purest of values and the best of intentions. In the past decades, football has gained huge popularity and influence, attracting both power and money. This has given new opportunities for expansion, but has also heightened existing risks and presented new challenges that threaten the sport’s reputation and wellbeing, such as corruption and match-fixing connected to the global criminal betting sector.
FIFA’s efforts to bring integrity to sport have to start at the top. They count for nothing without good governance, top down, that sends a signal to all those involved in football that there is zero tolerance of corruption throughout the sport.
Those responsible for governing the world of football and ensuring the sport’s integrity in this challenging environment must lead by example. In doing so, they send a positive message to the world.
That is why Transparency International believes it is important to make the following recommendations to demonstrate how FIFA can overcome its current problems and become an example and force for integrity, diversity and transparency, one that has a unique opportunity to make a difference in the world of sport, and beyond.