(WFI) Canadian IOC member Dick Pound tells INSIDER he is surprised that FIFA president Sepp Blatter resigned so soon after being re-elected for a fifth term on May 29.
“He was elected with a comfortable majority. What has changed his mind in the interim?” Pound said.
“Most politicians would think a win, with the margin he had, was essentially a landslide.”
The outspoken former World Anti-Doping Agency chief spearheaded IOC reforms in the late 1990s after the Salt Lake City bribery scandal shook the Olympic Movement. He and Blatter are both IOC representatives on the WADA Foundation Board.
“He’s certainly been around the game a while and knows it very well. I guess the problem is in any of these things, that if you take credit when the sun shines, you’ve also got to assume responsibility when it doesn’t, when it rains,” Pound said.
What were the lessons for FIFA from the scandal that brought the IOC to its knees?
“What FIFA could learn from that is it’s far better for you, the organisation, to manage your own process of reform and the installation of proper governance than it is for some outside agency such as the U.S. courts to do it for you,” Pound said.
“We had the same kind of pressure from the U.S. Congress, and we said we are not going to negotiate reforms with the U.S. Congress,” he explained.
“We’ll do it ourselves. When we’ve got it done and in place, then we’ll be happy to meet with the U.S. Congress and tell them what we’ve done, which is exactly what we did.”
Instead of quitting this week, Blatter will leave FIFA only when a successor is appointed, which may not be for another eight or nine months. Despite botching the four-year reforms process following the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding scandal, the Swiss – to many people’s dismay – is staying on and has pledged to work on new reforms with FIFA audit and compliance chef Domenico Scala.
Meanwhile, Canadian Soccer Association board member Amelia Salehabadi-Fouques said Canada ought to withdraw from CONCACAF and FIFA after the Women’s World Cup ends July 5.
“After the World Cup, we should put things on ice or see what’s happening. I don’t want us to engage in bidding for the 2026 [FIFA World Cup] or whatever,” Fouques, a Montreal-based lawyer, said. “We should say for now, it can be momentary, but we cut our links to CONCACAF and FIFA.”
The 2013 board appointee Fouques, who held legal positions with Bombardier and Bell Canada International, is a sports law specialist who wants the CSA to adopt its own transparency reforms. CSA does not publish its financial reports, but president Victor Montagliani said last year that it runs on an annual budget of $20 million to $22 million.
“This thing of secrecy, I don’t know where it comes from, but it has no place in corporations which do receive subsidies and where we as a parent pay, we don’t know where the money goes,” Fouques said.
CSA held an extraordinary board meeting and decided to vote for Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, but Blatter had a 133-73 edge in the first ballot, falling short of the two-thirds required. Ali conceded victory before a second ballot could be held.
After the vote, the CSA issued a statement to congratulate Blatter “and call on him to demand only the highest levels of accountability.”
“In respect of our core values of transparency and accountability, we are emphatic in the need to have reform and good governance as the ultimate priorities to ensure the betterment of our sport,” the statement said.
There are signs the years of FIFA controversy that culminated in the Swiss and U.S. police action have had an adverse effect on the Canada 2015 World Cup. Three of a possible six national sponsorships were sold, only one of which, telecom Bell, is Canadian-headquartered. Ticket sales for the first two opening round doubleheaders in Vancouver on June 8 and 12 have slowed to a trickle, so Vancouver civic workers were offered up to 20 tickets each at 50% off regular prices.
Canada 2015 spokesman Richard Scott said organizers will gauge sales to determine whether the upper deck of the retractable-roofed stadium would be open for those matches, which feature defending champion Japan and Women’s World Cup rookies Cameroon, Ecuador and Switzerland. The June 16 United States versus Nigeria match, however, is nearing a sellout in the 48,000-seat configuration.
Scott said the CSA has sold more than 830,000 tickets with a goal of 1.5 million.
Written by Bob Mackin