by BINOY KAMPMARK
There is a sense of frustration in bringing that unruly and labyrinthine football entity known as FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) into the world of squeaky clean finance. It resists two terms with an almost tribal enthusiasm: accountability and transparency. Both concepts are intrinsically linked – that of transparency being a means to keep accountability on the straight and narrow; accountability making it easier to be transparent. The operating rationale of FIFA has been to reject both concepts. When the football players start dribbling the ball, the bureaucrats are forgotten.
Academics have ventured into this field with ponderous unease and postulated several models of accountability (Roger Pielke Jr. in Sport Management Review suggests seven), though this is by no means reliable. A rather simple view is put forth by R. Grant and R. O. Keohane in the American Political Science Review (2005), though their recipe is intended as a broad splash over a range of fields. Accountability “implies that some actors have the right to hold other actors to a set of standards, to judge whether they have fulfilled their responsibilities in light of those standards, and to impose sanctions if they determine that those responsibilities have not been met.”
Part thief and part bargain hunter
The whole point of FIFA is that it resists theorisation on an easy model in a world of opaque global governance. It is, in itself, an organism of considerable sophistication, part thief and part bargain hunter. It also plays the best of games, having voices within it who sing the song of transparency without having the vote to push it through. Its church is broad enough to tolerate dissent without actual change.
Michael Garcia (photo), the ethics chief beavering into FIFA’s bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, reminded those who cared to listen that his report ought to be released in full. How utterly idiosyncratic of him, and how demonstratively ignorant. According to Hans-Joachim Eckert, head of the adjudicatory arm of the ethics committee, only four people have laid eyes on Garcia’s 350-page report, and the fewer eyes the better. It could be destined for the archives, the incinerator, or a lonely life as a Continue reading