You have to give FIFA some credit for even saying the right things as it has taken years of bribery and corruption for it to even get to this point. Last weekend, FIFA elected a new President for the first time since 1999. The member bodies chose Gianni Infantino, a Swiss administrator, who quickly announced that a new era for the organization had begun.
Perhaps more importantly FIFA passed a series of structural and process reforms which were designed to bring the organization into the 21st century and demonstrate to U.S. authorities that it really is going to change from its prior culture. As reported in the New York Times, these measures included a basic segregation of duties component by “seeking to divorce FIFA’s commercial enterprise from its policy making and to shift power away from a handful of individuals at the top.” There were all changes in the governance structure to limit the President’s term down from four to three years; mandate public disclosure of compensation; and require six women occupy top leadership slots.
Stefan Szymansk, a professor of sports management from the University of Michigan, was quoted in the NYT piece that “FIFA had to agree to this. The Department of Justice is much less likely to declare FIFA a corrupt organization now.” Even disgraced former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, released a statement saying, “I do hope our friends in the United States will accept that FIFA has promised these reforms, is doing these reforms, and that they will let us work in peace.” He added the reforms were “well done.”
But as always, the proof will be in the pudding as to whether the regional soccer federation will implement the mandates. Many of the Justice Department arrests were concentrated in the Americas and corrupt regional and national soccer federations. Newly elected President Infantino said, “We need to implement the reforms and obviously; we need to implement good governance and transparency.
Finally as former President Blatter dryly noted, “It’s their problem.” Indeed.