ITUC, Campaign Groups, Welcome Coca Cola and VISA Calls for Independent FIFA Reform

Brussels, 24 July 2015 (ITUC): Campaign groups advocating for independent FIFA reform have welcomed the news from VISA calling for an independent, third party commission to be responsible for reforming FIFA because “no meaningful reform can be made under FIFA’s existing leadership.”

VISA’s CEO, Charles Scharf, told reporters that FIFA’s responses to the scandal engulfing the organisation are “wholly inadequate and continue to show its lack of awareness of the seriousness of the changes which are needed.” The VISA move follows a call from long-standing sponsor Coca Cola for an independent reform process.

With US authorities beginning extradition proceedings for several of the 14 football and business identities already accused of bribery, racketeering, and money laundering, Bolivian prosecutors have launched investigations into four football officials there. The US is also stepping up investigations into the role of several major banks.

The ITUC, Transparency International (TI), and #NewFIFANow all applauded VISA for their stance.

“Coca Cola and Visa have rightly recognised the depth of the corruption crisis facing FIFA,” said TI’s Director of Communications and Public Outreach, Neil Martinson.”

“The other sponsors need to step up and speak out and join with the millions of supporters outraged by the complacency of those running FIFA. Only an independent reform commission can make the changes needed,” Martinson said.

Co-Founder of #NewFIFANow, Jaimie Fuller said campaign groups applauded VISA for their stance.

“#NewFIFANow has been calling for an independent, time-limited FIFA Reform Commission since its formation in January.”

Fuller said there was a strong sense of deja-vu around the reform process outlined by FIFA President Sepp Blatter earlier this week.

“The concept of an internally-driven taskforce headed by so-called independent chairman has tried and failed before,” Fuller said.

“Far-reaching reforms are needed at FIFA and this will not be achieved by a committee that is representing football’s confederations, some of which are also implicated in the corruption issues under investigation.”

Fuller also believes that the chairperson apparently being proposed by FIFA, Domenico Scala, is not independent.

Scala has been Chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee of FIFA for more than two years, is chair of the ad-hoc electoral committee handling the Presidential vote next February and has been by Blatter’s side working since June on reform measures.

“Mr Scala was hand-picked by Sepp Blatter to take up a role with FIFA in the first place. That reason alone is enough to reject him as ‘independent’.

“But more to the point are his other roles. The fact that he’s even suggested, and being seriously considered by FIFA’s confederations, shows that football officials are more interested in preserving as much of the status quo as possible to maintain their sinecures, rather than doing the right thing by their sport.”

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said that “only an independent FIFA Reform Commission headed by an eminent person will give football the governing body it deserves.”

“This is about giving football the best possible model for governance, and making sure that FIFA is a fit and proper body which meets its responsibilities including on the violations of workers and other human rights. FIFA’s refusal to make these rights a condition of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup shows that it is out of touch with reality.

“Sepp Blatter’s announcement on Monday is nothing less than a farce.”

“I am delighted that now both Coca-Cola and VISA agree with this approach along with the European Parliament. The other major sponsors, such as Adidas, McDonalds, Hyundai, Budweiser, and Gazprom need to follow the lead of Coca Cola and Visa,” said Burrow.

FIFA needs to take a step back from the mess it’s in and let the world’s experts do their thing to fix FIFA, and restore trust and confidence for all stakeholders.