Advocating for FIFA reform – a sponsor´s perspective

There’s so much that’s good about sport. Next to family, I see sport and music as the two most important cultural influences on children. But the difference between the two is that the love of sport, the love of a team, the enjoyment to be derived from it can be shared between generations. It’s very rare to see a grandparent, parent and child all enjoying the same music.

Yet what shocks me as a sports lover is how we’re let down by the people at the very top of sporting organisations time and time again. Sport should not be something in which we have little to no trust, and I do not accept – as so many unfortunately do – that it has to be like that. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me: “We know FIFA is corrupt but we love football and we love the World Cup, so what do we do?”

This blog post is part of a series
drawing on articles from the
Global Corruption Report: Sport.

It would be right to expect that FIFA’s major sponsors are good companies run by good people. Certainly the extensive documentation on their respective websites suggests that is the case.

Whether it is adidas, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Gazprom, Hyundai, Kia, McDonald’s or VISA, they each have a code of business conduct or ethics that requires the highest levels of integrity, or words to that effect. The majority of them espouse a commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and many specifically require that the rights of workers in their supply chain be consistent with their values. Depending on the circumstances, sponsors have options that range from quiet behind-the-scenes pressure on the properties or individuals they sponsor, public statements of their own policies and expectations, and active advocacy of change through taking a leadership role in making it happen.

The events of late May and early June in Zurich, New York and beyond, shone the spotlight for the world on the desperate need for reform of the world football governing body FIFA – although there have been some courageous people calling for the need for this for years beforehand including investigative journalists, FIFA whistleblowers and former officials.

Under the banner of #NewFIFANow, at SKINS we are working with a good bunch of people – politicians, current and former football officials, government officials, football whistleblowers and others – who want to collaborate, effect genuine, long-lasting systemic change, and be on the right side of history. Neither SKINS nor #NewFIFANow will be deterred from continuing to advocate for what we seek – and that is an independent FIFA Reform Commission led by an eminent person to review, develop and implement FIFA’s statutes, policies and structures and to conduct fresh presidential elections.

FIFA’s partners have been invited to be part of making football what it should be. They’ve been encouraged to stand up for their stated values to ensure FIFA operates in a way that ensures football, like all sport, is a vehicle for positive social change. We have invited some of them to take an active role in championing the independent, systemic reform that FIFA needs.

If they do not want to be part of the solution, they not only compromise the authenticity of their values, but it also means that, ultimately, they will be on the wrong side of history.

Carousel image: Flickr, GoToVan

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