Category: Sepp Blatter
Published on Thursday, 05 May 2011 11:47
We live in a world where perception has become the new reality.
Largely depending on our own ability to project what we know to be fact, we are perceived as good (corporate) citizens or an amalgam of "bad men". The negative perception is a direct result of our inability to get our message across. It is of course also the result of improper conduct by a few who tarnish the image of many.
The results of communicative ineptitude can be devastating for all those in an organisation who are decent and hard working, while the few who are responsible for negative attributes often don't care. This is true for FIFA, just as it is true for scores of European politicians with "expenses problems" or "Wall Street" engaging in Mr. Ponzi's craft. But it was never all parliamentarians nor a majority who conducted their affairs improperly; nor was it "Wall Street" as a whole that is rotten, and certainly not all of FIFA has issues with improper conduct. It is always a few who destroy lives and the image and reputation of many.
Communicating professionally, openly and continuously is a leadership responsibility. If we at FIFA have failed to explain our work sufficiently well over a period of time, then that is a reality I am willing to accept and will actively seek to remedy.
If change is what is needed, I am determined to live up to this promise: to improve our openness and to communicate better with all of our target audiences: the fans, the members, the clubs and, quite generally, society at large.
This is a commitment I offer to be held to, and one that will be a crucial part of my last term as President of FIFA if the 208 Members decide to re-elect me on June 1, 2011 in Zurich.
While corruption is a global problem that affects all states and societies around the world, it is based on perception, more often than fact.
The aptly named annual Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International, lists and reviews 178 nations of the world, the majority of which gets pretty awful grades. On the scale of 0 (very bad) to 10 (very clean), the vast majority of countries of this world finds itself in an uneviable position.
FIFA's home, Switzerland, is among the best rated – and far above most western states. With an index of 8.7 the country ranks eighth among 178 nations.
I claim that FIFA is no different to Switzerland as a whole. But the perception of our conduct does not reflect reality.
As an unlisted non-profit organisation, we are not obliged to publish our annual figures nor any data whatsoever under Swiss Law. Despite that, FIFA does publish its figures in accordance with the stringent International Financial Reporting Standards that are far more detailed and demanding than similar accounting standards used in other jurisdictions. I am proud to state that it was under my leadership as FIFA President that we started to publish our figures for the world to see in 2003 for the first time – and have adhered to that policy ever since, and in ever more detail.
But that is not enough.
Which is why, also under my tenure, I proposed to publish FIFA's Annual Activity Report which adds even more detail to the Financial Report, and covers all areas of our corporate affairs, FIFA's corporate social responsibility programmes and the innumerable projects we conduct, administer or have launched around the world.
Let me offer the following bet: 99 per cent of the critics who have nothing but mud flying our way, have never visited this URL: http://www.fifa-e-activityreport.com
. I invite them in particular, and all readers who really care to know about FIFA's work and activities, to have a look.
Corruption is by no means a FIFA specific phenomenon, nor is it a systemic problem in football. Since "everybody knows best all matters football", there are often 50,000 or more referees, linesmen and coaches in a stadium of said size. Everybody has an opinion about the game, how it is played and what it should be. This does not ease the burden to communicate properly: when I read about "Blatter's stupid offside rule", then I must smile because it is of course the IFAB that is the guardian of the laws of football – and not FIFA. And certainly not the FIFA President. Yet I have never read about the "IFAB's stupid offside rule" yet.
FIFA has 208 member countries but it also has 300 plus employees at the Home of FIFA. I have no hesitation to put my hand into fire for any and all of them and state that FIFA – those who make up our organisation in Zurich, the staff who work at FIFA – are among the best people in international sports management.
It is easy to attack someone with slanderous remarks, improper allegations and without facts that would stand up in any court of law. And "re-hash ad absurdum" does not improve the veracity of a flawed argument.
It sells to shriek about corruption at FIFA and I am not saying that there are no corrupt elements inside the FIFA family: it is a large family of more than 300 million people.
I am not saying that a handful of administrators from around the world – and FIFA does embody members from every corner of the globe – conducted themselves appropriately at all times. I am not saying that we cannot improve our own conduct.
What I am saying is that it is virtually impossible for an organisation that spans the planet as ours does, to monitor all of its members all the time.
I am committed to help improve FIFA's corporate conduct and to help weed out real corruption (but also to fight against general and unjustified broadsides thrust at our way). What is unacceptable in law (entrapment, for example), must also be unacceptable to those whose mission seems to be grounded in bringing down anything FIFA do. No matter what.
I am aware that we have to further improve our dedication to openness and accessibility. And I am committed to lead the way – as I have in the past by introducing numerous fundamental procedures as outlined further above.
What I am not prepared to do, is to have a few pundits twist the facts and continue to throw mud at people who are doing a massive job for millions around the world. The vast majority of people in football are solid, good and dedicated people.
There is much to do in terms of improvement of our communication effort, of our general corporate governance. I shall make all of that a central point of my last term as FIFA President - if re-elected.