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Call for an independent observatory entrusted to assess the governance of football

A PACE committee today called on the authorities of the EU, in concertation with the IOC, FIFA, UEFA and the Council of Europe, “to promote the establishment of an independent observatory entrusted to assess the governance of football by placing the emphasis on ethics and the integrity of elections”. This observatory would not have the power to govern the sport but “to ensure that the principles of good governance are being effectively implemented and shared”.

The Committee on Culture of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), meeting in Budapest today, said that questionable connections between sport and the top levels of politics, corruption, financial malpractice, cases of tax evasion and other scandals continue to make front-page headlines. 

“Football cannot be a lawless zone; action must be taken to deal with and eradicate these scourges,” the committee said. This requires greater effort and determination by all partners. It is necessary to ensure “genuine independence of the bodies responsible for detecting and punishing breaches of sports ethics, because this independence is indispensable to the good governance of sport”.

Adopting unanimously a draft resolution based on the report “Good football governance” prepared by Anne Brasseur (Luxembourg, ALDE), the committee called on sports organisations to include in their statutes a rule prohibiting any individual who is a member of a government, or holds government office, from sitting on their decision-making bodies. They should also review their regulations on the supervisory bodies which ensure compliance with standards of ethics and good governance, in order to safeguard the independence in practice – in both procedural and substantive terms – of the members of these bodies, especially their chairpersons.

The draft resolution welcomes the progress made by FIFA and UEFA in incorporating human rights into their systems of governance, with the creation of a Human Rights Advisory Board and the negotiations under way on the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding between UEFA and the Council of Europe.

The committee also called on FIFA to encourage the Qatari authorities to ensure that the worker welfare standards applicable to workers employed at the 2022 World Cup construction sites apply to all workers. Both FIFA and UEFA should also ensure compliance with the transfer rules in order to prevent “trading in children” and use a higher percentage of their resources to promote women’s football.

The draft resolution also calls on FIFA to take swift action and shed full light on the latest procedures for the award of the World Cup and in particular the procedure concerning the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, “which appears to be seriously flawed”.

“Too little money harms football, too much is killing it, we need to prevent football from self-destructing,” Anne Brasseur said, welcoming the unanimous adoption of the draft resolution.

The Parliamentary Assembly will debate the draft resolution at its next plenary session (Strasbourg, 22-26 January 2018).