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February 12, 2016
FIFA's struggle to restore trust has a mantra: reforms, reforms & more reforms

FIFA Director Communications and Public Affairs Division Nicolas Maingot speaks at the 79th AIPS Congress (Photo: Carlo Pozzoni/AIPS)
by Karlo Tasler, AIPS Young Reporter, Croatia
DOHA, February 12, 2016 - Scandal after scandal after scandal. Faith in FIFA as a moral institution has been violated to possibly the point of no return. Talks about upcoming World Championships are no longer just about football. Instead, the main topic are the circumstances in which Russia and Qatar received the opportunity to host arguably the biggest sporting event on the planet.

Two weeks before the extraordinary FIFA congress that will bring a successor to the suspended former president Sepp Blatter, FIFA Director Communications and Public Affairs Division Nicolas Maingot held a presentation in Doha on how FIFA intends on saving its credibility.

Maingot successfully avoided answering any questions related to the scandals. What he did instead was presented FIFA’s newly established reforms whose goal will be to avoid any new scandals, and who will also be voted on come February 26. The reforms are mainly concerning administrative structures that will essentially relocated the power of those in leading positions within the association. That means that the president will not have the free reign Blatter had on a number of issues for the last 17 years. Instead, more power will be given to the FIFA Council which is planned on shifting from 25 members to 36 members.

The first association to react to the proposed reforms was FIFPro, the International Federation of Professional Footballers, who recently stated that they expect more power for themselves in the decision-making in world football. Furthermore, the FIFPro members have underline fears that the reforms are nothing more than staged role play that will serve only to make FIFA even more powerful.

“It's alarming that these very same organizations are set to be rewarded grants. There will be even more power in the hands of the confederations and national member associations of FIFA who have been the source of corruption and the worst crisis in FIFA’s history“, FIFPro stated last week, adding the warning that the upcoming scenario will be even worse then before.

However, Maingot claims that reforms are here to restore the public’s trust in FIFA. This will be very hard task especially because the next two World Cups will be held in Russia and Qatar, both of which have been heavily contested, and whose governments have invested astronomic sums in the World Cup plans. The circumstances under which the two countries were granted the hosting rights to the tournaments has been a matter of discussion for some time now. An official ethics investigation on the Qatar 2022 bid due to claims of bribery and corruption in now ongoing and played a major role in Blatter’s earlier resignation.

However, the World Cup in Qatar will go on as planned in 2022, with an unprecedented winter-time schedule, due to Qatar’s soaring desert temperatures that can go over 50 degrees in summer months.

Another debatable topic comes in light of last year’s IHF Handball World Championship hosted by Qatar. A brand new national team was created ahead of the tournament, made up mostly of naturalized players from all over the world who could not make it into their own national teams, or who were offered higher compensation. Qatar’s national team reached the final of the tournament, where they lost to France, and brought Qatar their first ever medal at a major handball tournament. The world of football is concerned that something similar could happen at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Maingot, however, claims that fans do not have anything to worry about, due to FIFA’s that clear rules on naturalizing players. Then again, Qatar managed to move the World Cup to December for the first time since the organization of the first World Cup in 1930. Who assure the footballing world that a couple of FIFA’s rules can't be reformatted in the same way.

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