Could Sepp Blatter resignation pave way for independent directors at FIFA?

Could Sepp Blatter resignation pave way for independent directors at FIFA?

Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, FIFA president since 1998, has resigned from his position less than a week after being re-elected.

The scandal-ridden organisation pressed ahead with the leadership vote on Friday, despite US authorities arresting 14 FIFA officials on corruption charges earlier that week.   

The eighth president of FIFA told a press conference yesterday that he would remain for a further six months to allow enough time for a proper election for his successor between December 2015 and March 2016: “While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.

“Therefore I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA president until that election.

“Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts.”

Blatter’s resignation poses the following question - could independent non-executive directors have saved football from FIFA & thrown Blatter from the train in timely fashion?

Gerry Brown, in an extract from his book The Independent Director: The Non-Executive Director's Guide to Effective Board Presence, said this: “Chief executives deserve the full support of execs & non-execs alike, until such time as it became clear that they have outlived their usefulness or are damaging the business. In the case of FIFA, where they are damaging the integrity and credibility of the sport.

“Your role, in the case of FIFA, is to represent football, the global brand of the sport if you will. Part of your task is to remind the executive of those interests. In the end, what you can do is state clearly what you think, and why. How well your views will be received depends in part on the respect that others have for you, and the relationships you have with them.”

Greg Dyke, the chairman of the Football Association, doubted the integrity of Blatter’s reasoning for resignation: "Clearly there's a smoking gun. It's not to do with Sepp Blatter being honourable. I think [the news] is long overdue but it is good news for world football. It now means that we can get someone in to run FIFA, we can get in there and find out where all the money has gone over all these years and sort it out for the future."

While the 2018 World Cup in Russia may be too close to change the host nation, Qatar 2022 may not: “If I was the Qatari organisers I wouldn’t sleep very well tonight,” said Dyke. Qatar 2022 has already seen hundreds of workers die, which the Arab nation denies, saying this on state-run Qatar News Agency: “This is completely untrue. In fact, after almost five million work-hours on World Cup construction sites, not a single worker’s life has been lost. Not one.”

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