Pieth: I’m convinced FIFA will get it right

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and Prof. Mark Pieth, chairman of the Independent Governance Committee, during a press conference held at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on 30 November 2011
© Foto-net

After the presentation of the 'Governing FIFA' report, Prof. Mark Pieth answered questions from journalists at the Home of FIFA after being introduced by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. FIFA.comreports on what was said.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter

Today is an important day for FIFA. We started with all the new task forces, which have been implemented here this week. It’s now time to have the Independent Governance Committee, and I’m happy to introduce the new chairman of this committee, Professor Mark Pieth. I’m happy and proud that you have accepted the call - my call and the call of FIFA.

Professor Mark PiethThe report is not the end product; it’s the beginning of our work. We’ve been in the [Home of FIFA] and have talked to a lot of people. The significance of football is enormous. There has been a transformation process in the last 30 years, so that, as a governing body, means big business. We are in the house of a para-international organisation, and you have to upgrade governance to meet the requirements of a large company.

There are a couple of proposals we have worked out. We would like to include independent members to be part of the Exco, have a clear differentiation between committees, a clear separation between the Ethics and Disciplinary Committees, and to have due diligence requirements of members of the Exco. We also propose a limiting term of office.

There was the idea of refusing members if they have criminal record. I’m talking about serious stuff, but the tricky thing is, ‘How do you do such a thing?’ So the group has to figure this out. Not everybody will like this, but I’m not too worried about it. This is a process where we will try to change something, so we have to draw a line.

*On the past
*It’s always a difficult question, when you do such an exercise. It’s forensic work to look at the past. The other side is compliance, which is more like a coach leading to the future. It asks for a different type of know-how. We would fail if we did both with our team. A multi-stakeholder group has its advantages, but it would be mixing up issues. If you want to look at the past, you need the police and an independent Ethics Committee. If you look to the future, we would start our work by trying to convince people to do certain things. I have to take a decision, whether I look at the past or the future. My answer is that I’m looking to the future, other people will look at the past. But you have to glance at the past, to be sure that you are realistic about the path you are taking for the future.

On the mandates

People who are together in a group for a long time become friends and owe each other. For the future, we should ask, ‘How much time should you spend in such a job?’ But we therefore need the knowledge of such an institution. It’s a balance to be taken here.

*On who is paying for his services
*There are people who would do such an exercise for free, but we cannot do this for free. We do things for free, but this is not a place where we do our pro bono work. Auditors need to be paid. If you are working as a compliance monitor, cleaning up the company and also talking to the company, this is a serious professional work. But most of the money goes into another non-government organisation, which is the Basel institute.

On FIFA’s commitment

From a legal point of view, FIFA organises itself. They have to be convinced on certain things. We cannot force them to change certain things. The Independent Governance Committee is an advisory function. It’s a body of experienced people and stakeholders who know what they are talking about. It’s kind of a system that has its checks and balances.

On the timeframe
This is a process and I’m saying this in strong words. We will assess things as we go. I’m the person who is the founding member of this committee. I have quite a few people with me here, and we do things together. I’m presenting what the options are and the procedures. On the 17th of December, we will have the composition of the group. We will work until March to present to the Exco. If you want to change legal things, you have to go to Congress in summer 2012. FIFA has given itself a year of implementation of this reform scenario. These things are quite complicated. But I’m convinced that they will get it right this time around.

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