Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Towards a Suitable Policy Framework for Cricket Betting in India - By Deeksha Malik

Editor's note: Deeksha Malik is a final-year student at National Law Institute University, India. Her main interest areas are corporate law, arbitration, and sports law. She can be reached at dkshmalik726@gmail.com.


In 2015, while interrogating cricketer Sreesanth and others accused in the IPL match-fixing case, Justice Neena Bansal, sitting as Additional Sessions Judge, made the following observations as regards betting on cricket matches.

“Cricket as a game of skill requires hand-eye-coordination for throwing, catching and hitting. It requires microscopic levels of precision and mental alertness for batsmen to find gaps or for bowlers to produce variety of styles of deliveries’ (medium pace, fast, inswing, outswing, offspin, legspin, googly). The sport requires strategic masterminds that can select the most efficient fielding positions for piling pressure on the batsmen. Based on above description, cricket cannot be described anything, but as a game of skill.”

The debate on the issue of betting in sports has since resurfaced and gained the attention of sportspersons, media, sports bodies, policymakers, and the general public. In April 2017, the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar agreed to hear a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking an order directing the government to come up with an appropriate framework for regulating betting in sports. The arguments put forth in the PIL present various dimensions. One of these pertains to economic considerations, a submission that regulated betting would be able to generate annual revenue of Rs. 12,000 crores by bringing the earnings therefrom within the tax net. As for policy considerations, it was submitted that a proper regulation in this area would enable the government to distinguish harmless betting from activities that impair the integrity of the game such as match-fixing. Further, betting on cricket matches largely depends on the skill of the concerned players, thereby distinguishing it from pure chance-based activities.

The issue of sports betting witnesses a divided opinion till this day. This is understandable, for both sides to the issue have equally pressing arguments. Aside from its regulation being a daunting task for authorities, sports betting is susceptible to corruption and other unscrupulous activities. At the same time, it is argued that it would be better for both the game and the economy if the same is legalised. More...


International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – December 2017. By Tomáš Grell

Editor's note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have overlooked.

 

The Headlines 

The International Skating Union's eligibility rules declared incompatible with EU competition law

On 8 December 2017, the European Commission announced that it had rendered a decision in the case against the International Skating Union (ISU). The Commission upheld the complaint lodged in October 2015 by two Dutch professional speed skaters Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt, represented in this case by Ben Van Rompuy and Antoine Duval (you can read their joint statement here), and ruled that the ISU's eligibility rules preventing athletes from participating in speed skating competitions not approved by the ISU under the threat of severe penalties are in violation of EU competition law. In particular, the Commission held that these rules restrict the commercial freedom of (i) athletes who may be deprived of additional source of income as they are not allowed to participate in speed skating competitions other than those authorised by the ISU; and (ii) independent organisers who are unable to attract top athletes. And while the Commission recognised that sporting rules with restrictive effects might be compatible with EU law if they pursue a legitimate objective such as the protection of athletes' health and safety or the protection of the integrity and proper conduct of sport, it found that the ISU's eligibility rules pursue only its own commercial interests to the detriment of athletes and independent organisers of speed skating competitions. The ISU eventually escaped financial sanctions, but it must modify or abolish its eligibility rules within 90 days; otherwise it would be liable for non-compliance payments of up to 5% of its average daily turnover. For more information on this topic, we invite you to read our recent blog written by Professor Stefano Bastianon.

 

The International Olympic Committee bans Russia from the upcoming Winter Olympic Games

The world has been waiting impatiently for the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision on the participation of Russian athletes in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. This was finally communicated on 5 December 2017. Having deliberated on the findings of the Schmid Commission, the IOC Executive Board decided to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee with immediate effect, meaning that only those Russian athletes who demonstrate that they had not benefited from the state-sponsored doping programme will be able to participate in the Games. Such clean athletes will be allowed to compete under the Olympic Flag, bearing the name 'Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)' on their uniforms. Further to this, the IOC Executive Board sanctioned several officials implicated in the manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia, including Mr Vitaly Mutko, currently the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and formerly the Minister of Sport. Mounting public pressure subsequently forced Mr Mutko to step down as head of the Local Organising Committee for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Meanwhile, 21 individual Russian athletes were sanctioned (see here, here, here, and here) in December (in addition to 22 athletes in November) by the IOC Oswald Commission that is tasked with investigating the alleged doping violations by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The Oswald Commission also published two full decisions in the cases against Evgeny Belov and Aleksandr Tretiakov who were both banned from all future editions of the Games. It is now clear that the Court of Arbitration for Sport will have quite some work in the coming weeks as the banned athletes are turning to this Swiss-based arbitral tribunal to have their sanctions reviewed (see here and here).

 

Universal Declaration of Player Rights

14 December 2017 was a great day for athletes all over the globe. On this day, representatives of the world's leading player associations met in Washington D.C. to unveil the Universal Declaration of Player Rights, a landmark document developed under the aegis of the World Players Association that strives to protect athletes from ongoing and systemic human rights violations in global sport. The World Players Association's Executive Director Brendan Schwab emphasised that the current system of sports governance ''lacks legitimacy and fails to protect the very people who sit at the heart of sport'' and stated that ''athlete rights can no longer be ignored''. Among other rights, the Declaration recognises the right of athletes to equality of opportunity, fair and just working conditions, privacy and the protection of personal data, due process, or effective remedy.

 

Chris Froome failed a doping test during the last year's Vuelta a España

The world of cycling suffered yet another blow when it transpired that one of its superstars Chris Froome had failed a doping test during the last year's Vuelta a España, a race he had eventually emerged victorious from for the first time in his career. His urine sample collected on 7 September 2017 contained twice the amount of salbutamol, a medication used to treat asthma, than permissible under the World Anti-Doping Agency's 2017 Prohibited List. Kenyan-born Froome has now hired a team of medical and legal experts to put forward a convincing explanation for the abnormal levels of salbutamol in his urine and thus to avoid sanctions being imposed on him. More...

The ISU Commission's Decision and the Slippery Side of Eligibility Rules - By Stefano Bastianon (University of Bergamo)

Editor’s note: Stefano Bastianon is Associate Professor in European Law at the University of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar. He is also member of the IVth Division of the High Court of Sport Justice (Collegio di Garanzia dello sport) at the National Olympic Committee.

1. From the very beginning, the outcome of the ISU case was highly predictable, at least for those who are familiar with the basics of antitrust law. Nevertheless, more than twenty years after the Bosman judgment, the sports sector has shown the same shortsightedness and inability to see the forest for the trees. Even this attitude was highly predictable, at least for those who know the basics of sports governance. The final result is a clear-cut decision capable of influencing the entire sports movement. More...



Human Rights as Selection Criteria in Bidding Regulations for Mega-Sporting Events – Part II: FIFA and Comparative Overview – By Tomáš Grell

The first part of this two-part blog examined the new bidding regulations adopted by the IOC and UEFA, and concluded that it is the latter who gives more weight to human rights in its host selection process. This second part completes the picture by looking at FIFA's bidding regulations for the 2026 World Cup. It goes on to discuss whether human rights now constitute a material factor in evaluating bids to host the mega-sporting events organised by these three sports governing bodies. More...

Human Rights as Selection Criteria in Bidding Regulations for Mega-Sporting Events – Part I: IOC and UEFA – By Tomáš Grell

Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell holds an LL.M. in Public International Law from Leiden University. He contributes to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a research intern.


It has been more than seven years since the FIFA Executive Committee awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. And yet only in November 2017 did the Qatari government finally agree to dismantle the controversial kafala system, described by many as modern-day slavery. Meanwhile, hundreds of World Cup-related migrant workers have reportedly been exposed to a wide range of abusive practices such as false promises about the pay, passport confiscation, or appalling working and living conditions.[1] On top of that, some workers have paid the highest price – their life. To a certain extent, all this could have been avoided if human rights had been taken into account when evaluating the Qatari bid to host the tournament. In such a case, Qatar would not have won the bidding contest without providing a convincing explanation of how it intends to ensure that the country's poor human rights record will not affect individuals, including migrant workers, contributing to the delivery of the World Cup. An explicit commitment to abolish the kafala system could have formed an integral part of the bid.

Urged by Professor John Ruggie and his authoritative recommendations,[2] in October 2017 FIFA decided to include human rights within the criteria for evaluating bids to host the 2026 World Cup, following similar steps taken earlier this year by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UEFA in the context of the Olympic Winter Games 2026 and the Euro 2024 respectively. This two-part blog critically examines the role human rights play in the new bidding regulations adopted by the IOC, UEFA, and FIFA. The first part sheds light on the IOC and UEFA. The second part then takes a closer look at FIFA and aims to use a comparative analysis to determine whether the new bidding regulations are robust enough to ensure that selected candidates abide by international human rights standards.More...


International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – November 2017. By Tomáš Grell

Editor's note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have overlooked.

 

The Headlines

FIFA and FIFPro sign landmark agreement

A six-year cooperation agreement concluded between FIFA and FIFPro on 6 November 2017 puts an end to protracted negotiations which began after the latter had filed in September 2015 a complaint with the European Commission, challenging the validity of the FIFA transfer system under EU competition law. This agreement, together with an accord reached between FIFA, FIFPro, the European Club Association, and the World Leagues Forum under the umbrella of the FIFA Football Stakeholders Committee, should help streamline dispute resolution between players and clubs, avoid abusive practices in the world of football, or contribute to the growth of professional women's football. In addition, the FIFA Football Stakeholders Committee is now expected to establish a task force to study and conduct a broader review of the transfer system. As part of the deal, FIFPro agreed to withdraw its EU competition law complaint.

FIFA strengthens its human rights commitment amid reports of journalists getting arrested in Russia

It is fair to say that human rights have been at the forefront of FIFA's agenda in 2017. Following the establishment of the Human Rights Advisory Board in March and the adoption of the Human Rights Policy in June this year, in November FIFA published the bidding regulations for the 2026 World Cup. Under these new regulations, member associations bidding to host the final tournament shall, inter alia, commit themselves to respecting all internationally recognised human rights in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights or present a human rights strategy on how they intend to honour this commitment. Importantly, the human rights strategy must include a comprehensive report that is to be complemented and informed by a study elaborated by an independent expert organisation. Moreover, on 9 November 2017, the Human Rights Advisory Board published its first report in which it outlined several recommendations for FIFA on how to further strengthen its efforts to ensure respect for human rights.

While all these attempts to enhance human rights protection are no doubt praiseworthy, they have not yet produced the desired effect as reports of gross human rights abuses linked to FIFA's activities continue to emerge. Most recently, Human Rights Watch documented how Russian police arrested a newspaper editor and a human rights defender whose work focused on exposing World Cup-related corruption and exploitation of migrant construction workers. On a more positive note, a bit of hope comes with the announcement by a diverse coalition, including FIFA, UEFA, and the International Olympic Committee, of its intention to launch a new independent Centre for Sport and Human Rights in 2018.

More than 20 Russian athletes sanctioned by the Oswald Commission for anti-doping rule violations at the Sochi Games   

November has been a busy month for the International Olympic Committee, especially for its Oswald Commission. Established in July 2016 after the first part of the McLaren Independent Investigation Report had been published, the Oswald Commission is tasked with investigating the alleged doping violations by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Its first sanctions were handed down last month. As of 30 November 2017, the Commission chaired by the IOC Member Denis Oswald sanctioned 22 athletes (see here, here, here, here, here, and here) who competed at the Sochi Olympics in the following sports: biathlon, bobsleigh, cross country skiing, skeleton, and speed skating. The Commission published its first full decision on 27 November 2017 in the case against the cross country skier Alexander Legkov, a gold and silver medallist from the Sochi Olympics, who was ultimately banned for life from attending another Olympics.More...

Statement on the European Commission's ISU Decision by Ben Van Rompuy and Antoine Duval

Editor's note: We (Ben Van Rompuy and Antoine Duval) are at the origin of today's decision by the European Commission finding that the International Skating Union's eligibility rules are contrary to EU competition law. In 2014, we were both struck by the news that ISU threatened lifetime ban against speed skaters wishing to participate in the then projected Icederby competitions and convinced that it was running against the most fundamental principles of EU competition law. We got in touch with Mark and Niels and lodged on their behalf a complaint with the European Commission. Three years after we are pleased to see that the European Commission, and Commissioner Vestager in particular, fully embraced our arguments and we believe this decision will shift the tectonic structure of sports governance in favour of athletes for years to come.


Here is our official statement:

Today is a great day for Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt, but more importantly for all European athletes. The European Commission did not only consider the International Skating Union's eligibility rules contrary to European law, it sent out a strong message to all international sports federations that the interests of those who are at the centre of sports, the athletes, should not be disregarded. This case was always about giving those that dedicate their lives to excelling in a sport a chance to compete and to earn a decent living. The majority of athletes are no superstars and struggle to make ends meet and it is for them that this decision can be a game-changer.

However, we want to stress that this case was never about threatening the International Skating Union’s role in regulating its sport. And we very much welcome the exceptional decision taken by the European Commission to refrain from imposing a fine which could have threatened the financial stability of the International Skating Union. The International Skating Union, and other sports federations, are reminded however that they cannot abuse their legitimate regulatory power to protect their economic interests to the detriment of the athletes.

We urge the International Skating Union to enter into negotiations with representatives of the skaters to devise eligibility rules which are respectful of the interests of both the athletes and their sport.

Since the summer of 2014, it has been our honour to stand alongside Mark and Niels in a 'David versus Goliath' like challenge to what we always perceived as an extreme injustice. In this fight, we were also decisively supported by the team of EU Athletes and its Chance to Compete campaign.

Finally, we wish to extend a special thank you to Commissioner Vestager. This case is a small one for the European Commission, but Commissioner Vestager understood from the beginning that small cases do matter to European citizens and that European competition law is there to provide a level playing for all, and we are extremely grateful for her vision.


Dr. Ben Van Rompuy (Leiden University) and Dr. Antoine Duval (T.M.C. Asser Instituut)

A Good Governance Approach to Stadium Subsidies in North America - By Ryan Gauthier

Editor's Note: Ryan Gauthier is Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University in Canada. Ryan’s research addresses the governance of sports organisations, with a particular focus on international sports organisations. His PhD research examined the accountability of the International Olympic Committee for human rights violations caused by the organisation of the Olympic Games.


Publicly Financing a Stadium – Back in the Saddle(dome)

Calgary, Canada, held their municipal elections on October 16, 2017, re-electing Naheed Nenshi for a third term as mayor. What makes this local election an interesting issue for sports, and sports law, is the domination of the early days of the campaign by one issue – public funding for a new arena for the Calgary Flames. The Flames are Calgary’s National Hockey League (NHL) team, and they play in the Scotiabank Saddledome. More...




Illegally obtained evidence in match-fixing cases: The Turkish perspective - By Oytun Azkanar

Editor’s Note: Oytun Azkanar holds an LLB degree from Anadolu University in Turkey and an LLM degree from the University of Melbourne. He is currently studying Sports Management at the Anadolu University.

 

Introduction

On 19 October 2017, the Turkish Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (Disciplinary Committee) rendered an extraordinary decision regarding the fixing of the game between Manisaspor and Şanlıurfaspor played on 14 May 2017. The case concerned an alleged match-fixing agreement between Elyasa Süme (former Gaziantepspor player), İsmail Haktan Odabaşı and Gökhan Sazdağı (Manisaspor players). The Disciplinary Committee acknowledged that the evidence relevant for proving the match-fixing allegations was obtained illegally and therefore inadmissible, and the remaining evidence was not sufficient to establish that the game was fixed. Before discussing the allegations, it is important to note that the decision is not only significant for Turkish football but is also crucial to the distinction between disciplinary and criminal proceedings in sports. More...

Report from the first ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference - 26-27 October at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Close to 100 participants from 37 different countries attended the first ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference that took place on 26-27 October 2017 in The Hague. The two-day programme featured panels on the FIFA transfer system, the labour rights and relations in sport, the protection of human rights in sport, EU law and sport, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the world anti-doping system. On top of that, a number of keynote speakers presented their views on contemporary topics and challenges in international sports law. This report provides a brief summary of the conference for both those who could not come and those who participated and would like to relive their time spent at the T.M.C. Asser Institute.More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Book Review: Reforming FIFA, or Not

Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Book Review: Reforming FIFA, or Not

Editor’s note: This short book review will be published in a different format in the International Sports Law Journal, due to its timeliness we decided to reproduce it here. 

Reforming FIFA, or Not

 Antoine Duval

Book Review: Mark Pieth (ed.), Reforming FIFA, Dike Verlag, St. Gallen, 2014, 28.00 CHF, p.178

 


This book looks back at the work of the Independence Governance Committee (IGC). This Committee, constituted in 2011, had as primary objective to drive a reform process of FIFA initiated by its President Sepp Blatter. After ordering from the Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth, a report on the state of FIFA’s governance, FIFA decided to mandate him with the leadership of a consulting body composed of a mix of independent experts and football insiders, which would be accompanying and supervising the internal reform process of FIFA. The IGC was officially dissolved at the end of 2013, after completing its mandate. The book is composed of eight chapters, written by former members of the IGC, including former chairman Mark Pieth. In addition to the chapters, it includes the different reports (available here, here and here) submitted by the IGC to FIFA across the years. In the words of Pieth, this account is “fascinating because it gives a hands-on, realistic perspective of the concrete efforts, the achievements and the remaining challenges in the struggle for the reform of this organization [FIFA], avoiding the usual glorification or vilification.”[1] This review will first summarize the core of the account of the FIFA reform process provided by the book, before critically engaging with the outcome of the process and outlining the deficiencies that culminated on 29 May 2015 with the re-election of Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.

I.               Reforming FIFA…

In his introduction to the book, Mark Pieth provides a compelling account of the reasons why FIFA needs a reform process in the first place. He talks of the ““old boys” suddenly becoming rich”[2] and of the lack of “public accountability”[3] of FIFA. This narrative is similar to the one provided by Guillermo Jorge later in the book. He highlights the fact that FIFA relies on a “solide patronage network”, creating “incentives for member associations to engage in rent seeking – which means: spend time and efforts in obtaining such funds – and, at the same time, creates incentives for incumbents to request the favour back at the ballot box.”[4] Jorge’s detailed account of the institutional features of FIFA underlying this “patronage system” is in itself of great value.

It is further argued that with the scandals triggered by the Bin Hammam affair, in 2011, “Mr Blatter, realized that the governance structure needed to be adapted to the new challenges.”[5] In other words, it “was a product of the personal ambition of its president.” [6] All along the book, Pieth and other members of the IGC, consider Blatter as a key supporter of the reform process and shift the blame for its incompleteness on UEFA’s shoulders amongst others.[7]. UEFA, it is claimed, has been instrumental in blocking a centralized integrity check on FIFA officials (especially the members of the ExCo). Blatter, for his part, is said to have understood “sooner than many of his colleagues”, that “the system” was falling apart”[8] and that a “self-controlled reform seemed to be a rational response to pre-empt or delay external regulation and mitigate the risk for future, more uncertain investigations.”[9]

The substance of the reform triggered by the IGC is not discussed in great detail, nor is its implementation in practice assessed in depth. To be fair, the book chapters were probably written early 2014 and could hardly have done so. The core changes highlighted by the members of the IGC concern the function and structure of the Ethics Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee. As claimed by Pieth, “the most tangible changes are the institutional changes in the area of the Ethics Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee.”[10] In particular, “the independent permanent chairs and deputy chairs of the Ethics Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee.”[11] Pieth praises the fact that “[t]he investigator and his deputy have full discretion which cases they take on and decide to investigate.”[12] Moreover, the “investigation is independent both from the FIFA administration and from the judicial chamber.”[13] This is also underlined by the contribution of Lord Peter Goldsmith focusing on the investigatory process.[14] Damian Heller discusses the core changes introduced to the Audit and Compliance Committee (ACC) in a separate chapter.[15] After the reform, the ACC has gained new important competences, e.g. drawing up the Organisation Regulation (governing the rights and obligations of FIFA’s organs), controlling the compensation policy of FIFA executives, monitoring the bidding process for the World Cup and auditing the use of the development funds. In addition to this, the independence of the Committee members has been reinforced. Thus, Pieth expect “that these independent agents within FIFA will make a big difference in the culture of the organization during their tenure.”[16]

The members of the IGC are not all positive about the changes triggered by the reform process engaged by FIFA. For Leandro Grosso, the member of IGC representing FIFPro, the football players’ union, the reform is clearly a failure.[17] Pieth himself is cautious enough to remind in his introduction “that pure self-regulation is a slow and uncertain process.”[18] He insists, that “[t]o be successful it has to change the culture of the whole organization, it needs to reach the associations in particular and it has to permeate the everyday life of the organization.”[19] Yet, throughout the book, there is still a clear sentiment that the FIFA reform process was a success. Indeed, Pieth considers that “[w]ith the new independent chairs in place, a first essential step has been taken.”[20] He adds: “it must be acknowledged that, overall, the last three years have been rather successful in bringing the regulations up to a certain standard.”[21] As another IGC member puts it “[t]he IGC has largely succeeded in its efforts to reform FIFA’s governance.”[22] After the reform, “there are far greater systems and controls and far greater ethical standards within FIFA.”[23] In short, “FIFA is today much closer to public and corporate governance standards than it was two years ago.”[24] Is this true?

II.             …Or Not

The IGC’s members’ optimism might go a bit too far. The recent events surrounding the investigation of the bidding process for the World Cup 2018 and 2022 seem to call for a critical assessment of the scope of progress made. Independent investigatory personnel make little difference if a final report is later shelved without allowing for external scrutiny of its findings as happened with the by now infamous Garcia report on the attribution of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. Similarly, having a competent check on FIFA’s compensation policy is of little use if those rigorous accounts are not made freely available for journalists and the public to peruse them. The institutional changes celebrated by the members of the IGC are not negligible, but to gain real currency they must be coupled with a duty of transparency and the new Committees must be able to dispose of their findings independently. The resignation of Michael Garcia, who was deemed a token figure of the success of the reforms supported by the IGC, is there to remind us that even the, allegedly, best individuals are powerless if the institution is in a position to block their work. With his scorecard (see also here and the response of FIFA) on the reform process, Roger Pielke had convincingly quantified the limited nature of FIFA’s reforms. His findings are now corroborated in practice; even the few reform proposals FIFA actually implemented did not fundamentally change the institution. This is critical stance is shared by a recent report on ‘The reform of football governance’ adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, urging FIFA to reinforce transparency and accountability across the board.

The IGC’s members were probably blinded by Blatter’s apparent goodwill. In fact, Blatter may even have held these good intentions, though his new stint at the head of FIFA is there to remind us that however enlightened, he remains a power-hungry monarch. Moreover, Blatter is truly accountable to only one forum: the FIFA Congress. Thus, it is doubtful that the “patronage system” put in place to control it will go away without resistance. In fact, Blatter would probably have never been re-elected in 2015 if he had imposed a radical clean up of past (and maybe present) FIFA practices relating to the use of development funds and vote buying. In that regard, the recent decision to give to the FIFA Congress the responsibility for the election of the host state of the FIFA World Cups is a potentially dangerous move that could enhance the risk of vote-buying. It shifts even more the decisive power away from the biggest Confederations to the small peripheral FAs.

All in all, it is naturally difficult for the members of a body that was invested with the responsibility to guide FIFA’s latest reform to recognize their failure to really change the way FIFA works. Some members of the IGC have done so; Alexandra Wrage resigned in protest against FIFA's “rotten reform record”. Even though one can criticize the independence of the IGC, the IGC’s members were probably genuinely committed to changing FIFA. But the main lesson one can draw from their very limited success in doing so is that sheer commitment and expertise is not enough to transform an institution grounded on a political system that promotes inertia and to some extent corruption. The illusion of an enlightened reform of FIFA driven by insiders, especially by Mr. Blatter, has been shattered. In the case of FIFA, a revolution is needed, heads need to roll, and a radically new political system needs to be put in place. Those are not easy tasks. Triggering a revolution will take time and energy. It will involve the appliance of extreme political pressure, either through the open threat of secession of UEFA or through criminal proceedings initiated by public authorities. In the end, Pieth himself is right: “self-regulation alone rarely works”[25]. This points to ‘[t]he responsibility of the host country’.[26] The “lax regulatory attitude”[27] of the Swiss government is certainly a key disincentive to a true FIFA reform. It is Switzerland’s duty to “define the minimum standard for organizations, in particular in the areas of democracy, accountability and financial controls.”[28] As the recent raid by the Swiss Police has proven, if there is the will to intervene, there is no insurmountable legal obstacle to do so. It is true, as many members of the IGC argue, that States are not in an easy position. The power of the FIFAs and IOCs of this world is extremely strong. Through their exit option, they can blackmail national States, and in particular Switzerland, into adopting an accommodating stance. But, it is simply not true that “ISOs [International Sporting Organisations] have extensive privileges and immunities, and are not governed by national laws – so cannot generally be reached by such prosecutors and regulators”[29], as Lord Goldsmith states. Still, it makes sense that the most far-reaching interventions to date that triggered reforms of Sports Governing Bodies (SGBs) were made by the EU and the US.[30] Both are strong enough to confront the political strength of the SGBs. Hence, the recent indictment of a number of FIFA officials on various criminal grounds in the US might be the first necessary step towards truly reforming FIFA.

This book is a valuable testimony of a process that has unfortunately failed to fundamentally change FIFA for the time being. One should not radically undermine the progress done, the new institutions put in place and rules adopted might serve as a basis for an overhaul of FIFA in the future, though for that to happen it will most likely need an assist from the EU or the US.


[1] M. Pieth, ‘Reforming FIFA’ in M. Pieth (ed.) Reforming FIFA, Dike Verlag, St. Gallen, 2014, p.1

[2] M. Pieth, ‘Introduction’ in M. Pieth (ed.) Reforming FIFA, p.8. In similar terms see M. Hershman, ‘The need for reform’ in M. Pieth (ed.) Reforming FIFA, p.17-18.

[3] M. Pieth, ‘Introduction’, p.9

[4] Guillermo Jorge, ‘From Patronage to managerial accountability’ in M. Pieth (ed.) Reforming FIFA, p.53

[5] M. Pieth, ‘Introduction’, p.9

[6] G. Jorge, ‘From Patronage to managerial accountability’, p.56

[7] M. Pieth, ‘Beyond changing the code: reforming culture’, in M. Pieth (ed.) Reforming FIFA, p.60

[8] G. Jorge, ‘From Patronage to managerial accountability’, p.57

[9] Ibid.

[10] M. Pieth, ‘Introduction’, p.15

[11] M. Pieth, ‘Beyond changing the code: reforming culture’, p.61

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] See in particular the contribution by Lord Peter Goldsmith, ‘How to investigate misbehaviour in international sports organizations’ in M. Pieth (ed.) Reforming FIFA, p.31-38

[15] D. Heller, ‘The role of the Audit & Compliance Committee’ in M. Pieth (ed.) Reforming FIFA, p.63-69

[16] M. Pieth, ‘Beyond changing the code: reforming culture’, p.61

[17] Leonardo Grosso, ‘The reform’s impact on stakeholder involvement from the players’ perspective’ in M. Pieth (ed.) Reforming FIFA, p.39-48

[18] M. Pieth, ‘Introduction’, p.16

[19]Ibid and M. Pieth, ‘Beyond changing the code: reforming culture’, p.59-62 . In similar terms, see G. Jorge, ‘From Patronage to managerial accountability’, p.58

[20] M. Pieth, ‘Introduction’, p.16

[21] M. Pieth, ‘Beyond changing the code: reforming culture’, p.59

[22] M. Hershman, ‘The need for reform’, p.20

[23] M. Pieth, ‘Introduction’, p.16

[24] G. Jorge, ‘From Patronage to managerial accountability’, p.57

[25] M. Pieth, ‘The responsibility of the host country’ in M. Pieth (ed.) Reforming FIFA, pp.23-30, p.26

[26] Ibid, pp.23-30.

[27] Ibid, p.25.

[28] Ibid, p.26

[29] Lord Peter Goldsmith, ‘How to investigate misbehaviour in international sports organizations’, p.32

[30] See for the EU, A. Geeraert & E. Drieskens, ‘The EU controls FIFA and UEFA: a principal–agent perspective’, Journal of European Public Policy, 03/2015. See for the US, R. Pielke, ‘How can FIFA be held accountable?’, Sport Management Review 16 (2013) 255–267.



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