Two weeks ago Michael Garcia the author of FIFA’s report into corruption allegations concerning the hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups spoke out at the ABA Criminal Justice Section International White Collar Crime Institute Conference about FIFA’s lack of transparency, based on the fact that his report will never be shared with the public.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has stated that publishing the report would be compromising witness confidentiality.
“That’s a kind of system which might be appropriate for an intelligence agency, but not for an ethics compliance process in an international sports institution that serves the public and is the subject of intense public scrutiny.” Garcia is quoted as saying in response.
He went on to say “Transparency is not intended to embarrass certain individuals by airing dirty laundry or to harm the organisation by showing what went wrong. Its the opposite. Where the institution have taken significant steps forward and made that progress, transparency provides evidence of that to the public.” Something many organisations failure to comprehend.
It is often the lack of transparency and sharing of information that raises suspicions amongst those passionate about sport or other organisations. In a world where information is far more readily available than in the past, trite press releases no longer satisfy that hunger for facts and honesty.
Garcia has come out and stated that the controversy surrounding the bidding process has given FIFA the “ideal opportunity to reform their practices.” Yet few expect that the world’s governing body will listen and take action. Sadly the powers that be in every member nation will also do little to enforce change for fear of retribution if they speak out.
The sad thing is FIFA could learn from the International Olympic Committee. They too were embroiled in a scandal involving bribery and the hosting of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002. They brought in stringent new rules about bidding, and also published the results of their investigations.
Recently the NFL in America has shown a lack of transparency in their investigation into star player Ray Rice’s assault on his fiancé. This lead to scepticism and questions over the integrity of the leadership of the NFL, and as a result they have now had to bring in outside council to carry out a further investigation, and try to restore the public’s faith. They have also announced that the findings of the new investigation will be made public.
Gone are the days of keeping such investigations in-house. Disgruntled employees are everywhere and information can in most cases be gleaned from someone within most organisations who does not agree in the secretive approach. FIFA’s view shows how out of touch its management are with the real world, but other institutions can learn a great deal from their mistakes.