(WFI) A former member of FIFA’s Independent Governance Committee has called for president Sepp Blatter to “resign for the good of the sport” and added his voice to calls for the release of the Garcia report.
Michael Hershman, founder of Transparency International, was speaking at the ICSS Securing Sport Conference at London’s Lancaster House on Monday. In comments to the media, he reflected on his involvement with world football’s governing body and said that FIFA had hurt the credibility of other sports in the world.
“I think that president [Sepp] Blatter should resign for the good of the sport, and for the good of the organization,” Hershman said. “He was in a leadership position when all of the scandals happened, and he hasn’t taken personal responsibility.
“It’s true that he hasn’t been found to have personal wrongdoing or been involved in personal wrongdoing, but frankly, my experience has been that when you have organizations that are continually under a cloud, one of the most effective ways to get out from under that cloud is to change the leadership.”
A big part of that cloud over FIFA is the Michael Garcia report into the World Cup 2018 and 2022 bidding processes. Since being handed to FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, many have called for the report to be published – including a handful of executive committee members and even Garcia himself.
FIFA cited the need for confidentiality as the reason why the report should not be published, but Hershman believed there was room for maneuvering in this case.
“If you look at ethics codes and investigatory bodies, you’ll often find confidentiality procedures, but there are always exceptions to these rules, and in a case like this, common sense should dictate what FIFA does rather than the written rule.
“Even if people aren’t punished for one reason or another because there is no jurisdictional oversight, it will bring some clarity to what went on.”
Hershman, who is seen as a leading expert on sports governance, added that he found it “strange” that members of the executive committee called for the publication of the report last month, but that after their meeting in Switzerland, Blatter said that no claims of that sort were made.
“That gives you some of the idea of the pressures that people face in FIFA to toe the line,” added Hershman.
The American also called for a closer relationship between sports organizations and politicians in general. At a time when the IOC is courting politicians in an effort to save the Winter Olympic movement, Hershman said government intervention in sports is vital.
“I see in some individual in politics speaking about this but not enough, there are too few. We’ve got to teach politicians this issue of sports reflects on society in general.”
Hanzab Opens Conference
The fourth Securing Sport conference took place for the first time outside of Qatar in the glamorous setting of London’s Lancaster House.
ICSS president Mohammed Hanzab welcomed more than 200 officials, members of the media and leaders from the world of sport to the conference.
In his opening address, he claimed that “corruption in sport is as dangerous as Ebola” but mentioned that the dangers in sport were not just restricted to match-fixing and illegal betting.
He said, “Terrorism in particular is alive and growing, often transforming sporting events to major security measures. This is not the sport we want.”
Talks will continue until Tuesday evening when the conference closes.
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