Saturday, January 2, 2016

Double Trouble or a Great Idea?

Presidential candidate Salman wants to divide FIFA in two

MIAMI (Reuters) - The frontrunner in the FIFA presidential election, Asian football chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, says he wants to divide the organization into two separate entities as part of a 'turnaround' plan for the crisis-hit organization.

Salman, who is president of the Asian Football Confederation, said in a statement on Wednesday that FIFA's governance and business functions would be separated if he took over the helm following the Feb. 26 elections. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of Yahoo Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: First off, hat tip to Elie for brings this one forward.

I am of two minds regarding this proposition of splitting FIFA into a "football" side and a "business" side, likely with a "Chinese Wall" between them.

Part of me thinks this is a great idea where you separate out the money generating portions of the business from the football operational side. On the surface this would seem to allow better auditing abilities of the finances while maintaining operational integrity. In fact this is done regularly in business or for projects with particularly sensitive information that must be kept compartmentalized. These methods could be actuarial as well as physical in nature. 

I am not so sure however that such an arrangement would meet the needs to prevent corruption. A slightly closer look at how the operational side can substantially influence the money side is not far away however. A first and stunning example is the choice of Qatar as a venue in 2022. Here is a nearly purely "operational" decision. Take a look at the FIFA report on the US bid for 2022 here. With the exception of a couple of sections, it is all about the "how" things will be done. Yet, as we know, as the events unfolded a substantial amount of corruption (and money exchange) occurred as part of a venue decision.

Let's say for sake of argument World Cup decision are relegated to the money side of the house due to the very large financial gain FIFA realizes from each. How about the surface for play?

Well, here too we seem to have created some conflicts of interest as I detailed in a 2014 article, "The case of Dr. Turf and the Cowardly Judge." Here, we had the dispute about use of a synthetic surface or not, and shockingly (not) FIFA rolled out "Dr. Turf" to advocate that turf was equivalent to grass in all respects. Only issue was Dr. Turf was affiliated with a company that produced such surfaces. So even here with something purely operational the opportunity for abuse exists.

Where Asian football chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa gets it completely right is where he believes FIFA has to be torn down completely and rebuilt before it can be effective. I share that opinion. Great danger and opportunity exist in such a case however as nature abhors a vacuum and such a void may be filled with exactly the wrong people.

Don't get me wrong, the idea brought forward while not novel and I believe has issues, is one of the most original for FIFA in years. All credit is due for that to be sure.

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