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Calm after the storm. EU cosies up to FIFA for governance love-in

By Andrew Warshaw

January 11 – Little more than a month after the Council of Europe issued a scathing attack on FIFA’s governance, the two organisations have agreed to work closer together and strengthen co-operation.

In December, FIFA’s highly controversial decision to purge its senior governance officials last May with the backing of Gianni Infantino was seriously called into question by an eagerly awaited report drawn up by former Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE)  president Anne Brasseur.

The report accused Infantino of “micro-management” and pointed to “the high number of people dismissed” since his election as FIFA boss, criticising him for removing independent officials who “might have embarrassed” him by simply doing what they were supposed to do.

The report seems to have had an immediate effect following talks between Infantino and Thorbjørn Jagland, the Council’s secretary general.

The pair agreed to start working on an official Memorandum of Understanding to set out their main aims in the hope of signing an agreement before the end of the year.

The MoU will focus around various key human rights issues in sport, including good governance, anti-doping, anti-violence and anti-match-fixing, as well as safety, security and service at football matches around the world.

“It seems clear to me that FIFA and the Council of Europe share many common goals,” Infantino said. “Good governance, respect for human rights and a resolute stance against doping, match-fixing and violence are a top priority for world football’s governing body.”

Jagland added: “Our sports conventions reach beyond Europe and many other countries have expressed interest in joining them. Closer cooperation with FIFA will help to promote respect for human rights in sports both in Europe and worldwide.

“I am also pleased that FIFA wants to work with us on the subject of governance. The role of sports in our society ­- for example, in boosting integration – cannot be underestimated. Good governance will help ensuring that the benefits of sport can be enjoyed by everyone.”

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