One really has to wonder if FIFA wants to reform itself or if it has fed at the trough of unlimited power, illegitimate money, and zero meaningful oversight for so long that it cannot stop even if it wanted to. Over the weekend, the world’s largest sporting organization seemed to reach a new crisis point, as its new president, Gianni Infantino, was given the sort of dictatorial powers by the FIFA Congress which his predecessor, Sepp Blatter, never possessed.
In a 186-1 vote, the FIFA Congress gave Infantino the right to sack any member—including the organization’s chairman of its audit and compliance committee, Domenico Scala—as well as the committee’s investigators. Reacting to the obvious power grab, Scala resigned Saturday. He said in a statement, “With this decision, it will henceforth be possible for the council to impede investigations against single members at any time by dismissing the responsible committee members or by keeping them acquiescent through the threat of a dismissal. I am consternated about this decision, because it undermines a central pillar of the good governance of FIFA and it destroys a substantial achievement of the reforms.”
Not to be outdone, FIFA fired back on its website, saying: “The Council fully respects the independence of the audit and compliance and the ethics committees, and any suggestions to the contrary are without merit. Mr. Scala has made unfounded claims which are baseless. FIFA is focused on reform and the path forward as evidenced by the appointment of a new FIFA Secretary General.”
With these moves, it certainly is hard to believe that Infantino seriously wants to clean up the organization. Further, FIFA has claimed ‘victim’ status before U.S. prosecutors, hoping to avoid direct criminal action against it by the Department of Justice. If FIFA wants to seriously claim it is intending to get its corrupt house in order, making the head of its ethics function subject to termination simply at the president’s whim is not the way to do so.