A Few Ways To Fix FIFA
A shot of FIFA headquarters. Photo from FIFA.com

There's been a lot of talk over the past couple weeks about how FIFA can, and should, reform itself. Taking out the cynical take that they can't, a lot of ideas have been floated around. Most of them involve taking away votes from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean or in some other way limiting them.

That's absurd.

Beyond the obvious question of how such a system is implemented, the reformers in FIFA should be looking for ways to court those people for the betterment of world soccer, not isolate and ignore them. It can't be the World Cup if huge swaths of the world aren't involved.

Before jumping into details, it should be noted that it is literally impossible to prevent corruption from ever happening. As long as humans are involved, there will be unethical people doing unethical things.

However a system can be put in place that could limit their activities in soccer, so mass corruption at the current level is much more difficult.

First things first that needs to happen is a shakeup of the Executive Committee. It's a bit of a bloated mess at the moment. To use a comparison, if the General Congress is equal to the United States' House of Representatives, the Executive Committee should be the Senate. Not a perfect example, but one that works in regard to size. The Executive Committee should be running the day-to-day operations of FIFA to make sure the game is running smoothly. In order to do that they Executive Committee needs to be dropped in size.

The FIFA President, elected by Congress, oversees the running of the committee while the rest is made up of two representatives from each Confederation. That's twelve members, with the President casting the tie-breaking vote if need be. Each member of the Executive Committee would be voted by their respective Confederation, but vetted by FIFA (currently their vetted at the Confederation level). Only those who haven't been disciplined can run. This would prevent those convicted of corruption from having a top posting. Each member serves a four year term, limited to two terms (consecutive or not). A new cycle starts the second year after a World Cup.

Now that the how is defined, what is the role of the Executive Committee? The role would be to split up into four, three man sub-committees with unique responsibilities. The first would be to investigate allegations of corruption with the second being investigations into rule changes. The third would be responsible for host tournament applicants. That means if, say, Belgium, wishes to host the U-20 Women's World Cup, these three members will verify that Belgium is capable of hosting that tournament. They do not determine if Belgium does so much that they meet the requirements. They check all the applications for such FIFA tournaments. Finally the last sub-committee deals with finance. Every federation receives a pair of grants, and this group will ensure those grants are paid out. Also, if a federation requires further dispensation, this committee will review that application.

An example: after the Haitian earthquake, their FA would send a request for (just a random number) $5 million to rebuild their headquarters. This committee would review the application as being just and needed. If so, like the rest of the sub-committees, once approved it'd go to the full Executive Committee for a vote.

There's the Executive Committee. Is it perfect? No, but it is much better than the bloated, Jabba the Hutt-esque form it's taken lately. It would have clear, defined roles and responsibilities. A note about rule changes: only the IFAB can implement changes. That shouldn't change. With the game changing so rapidly, having these three members look into using goal line technology or a third referee or other subtle changes should be given a hard look. Also whether these changes are for FIFA tournaments solely or optional for federations or required rule changes for everyone. Example: not every federation can afford goal line technology for their leagues so it'd be optional, but perhaps mandatory at all senior FIFA tournaments.

With the Executive Committeelined, the last change needed is to make sure that when money is given it goes to that purpose. Control the money and corruption is more limited. If a GOAL grant is to be used to build soccer fields in Tahiti, make sure those fields are built. If a grant is to be used to fund a women's program from U-18 on up for four years, make sure it goes to just that. All of this is tied back into the duties of the Executive Committee but it's worth stating here.

The FIFA Congress, still meeting twice a year, would vote on the FIFA president as well as hosting rights for FIFA tournaments. Once the Executive Committee approves the applicants, the Congress will make their choice. How can these changes be implemented? Likely the rot will have to be dug out before this could happen. Once a good amount has been removed, the easiest way is to increase the normal grants in the knowledge that some small amount is likely to be skimmed off. Even if only 80% of that money goes to improving the game, soccer would blossom beautifully around the world. The game would become so much stronger in every corner of the globe.

And really, that's the point of FIFA.

Oh, and term limits on the President should go without saying. No need for despots.

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