also be empowered to conduct internal and
external audits. Further, it should set and
continuously certify adherence to mandatory
professional qualifications — including
for integrity — for all officials with
Finally, to manage the spike in ethics and
compliance risks that accompany each World
Cup, the program must expand temporarily
within each host country. Sufficient financial
and personnel resources should be made
available to mitigate risks. In 2017, FIFA took
a step forward by adopting a human rights
policy, largely at the urging of Harvard
Professor John Ruggie, who a year earlier
recommended several reform steps to meet
standards set forth in the UN Guiding Principles
on Business and Human Rights. 8 It remains to
be seen if FIFA commits long-term to putting
the policy into action. FIFA must, however, go
beyond acknowledging basic human rights,
using its influence to counter the corruption
and environmental degradation associated
with its activities. This will only happen if
FIFA’s corporate benefactors insist on it.
Focus on tournaments
Billions of dollars in taxpayer money are
lost to fraud, waste, and corruption when
host countries prepare for and host major
football events. Brazil and South Africa, the
two most recent World Cup host countries,
are littered with white elephant stadiums.
The social and economic benefits promised
by government officials never materialized.
The organization of FIFA tournaments should
pass to a new tournaments committee that
would include some outside experts. The goal
is to ensure that clear rules and processes are
designed and adhered to for all tournament
· Site selection
· Infrastructure construction
· Media and marketing
· Event management
· Post-tournament audit and
The tournament committee should require
“integrity pacts” that commit companies
to compete cleanly for business related to
major FIFA events. To participate in bidding,
companies must agree to allow their books and
records to be audited independently throughout
the commercial relationship, possibly with the
support of an organization like Transparency
International and managed by the FIFA
ethics and compliance program. Any entity
that attempts to bribe or otherwise engage in
corrupt activity would be severely penalized
legally —and potentially debarred from doing
business with FIFA for several years. Conversely,
companies that demonstrate they meet the
highest ethics and compliance standards could
become preferred FIFA partners.
In Infantino’s February 2016 speech, he
also said: “I want to work with all of you
together in order to restore and rebuild a new
era in FIFA.” This aspiration remains largely
unfulfilled. FIFA’s corporate sponsors and
media partners are in the best position to
awaken it and give it life. For the good of the
“people’s sport,” they must. ✵
1. Fox Soccer video: “Gianni Infantino gives first speech as FIFA
President.” Available at https://youtu.be/raMa-s8I6Us.
2. Brian Homewood: “FIFA reformer Scala quits over loss of
independence” CBC; May 14, 2016. Available at https://bit.
3. Rebecca R. Ruiz: “2 Top Soccer Officials Found Guilty in FIFA Case”
The New York Times; December 22, 2017. Available at https://nyti.
4. Amnesty International Report on Qatar: “Qatar World Cup of
Shame;” Available at https://bit.ly/1q5h T1Z.
5. Human Rights Watch Report on Russia: “Red Card: Exploitation of
Construction Workers on World Cup Sites in Russia” Human Rights
Watch; June 14, 2017. Available at https://bit.ly/2qDKBZw.
6. Richard H. McLaren: “The Independent Person 2nd Report”
Independent Person Wada Investigation of Sochi Allegations;
December 9, 2016. Available at https://bit.ly/2gK2uzB.
7. Jeffrey Thinnes: “FIFA’s next critical steps will define its future”
Compliance & Ethics Professional. July 2016.
8. John G. Ruggie: “FOR THE GAME. FOR THE WORLD.” FIFA and
Human Rights. Corporate Responsibility Initiative Report No. 68.
2016 Cambridge, MA: Harvard Kennedy School.