Three of FIFA’s most influential figures voiced concerns at Soccerex Global Convention about the media crisis that has engulfed football’s governing body in recent times, expressing a need for action to counter negative perceptions.
Quizzed by Soccerex consultant David Davies about the impact of the ongoing media allegations about FIFA’s affairs, in a panel discussion entitled “A Word from the Wise”, FIFA Executive Committee Member Michel D’Hooghe said “I think we must be very honest and say that this has been very damaging for the reputation of FIFA.
“Although FIFA does many good things, these things never appear in the media. It’s the bad things that give, for the moment, FIFA a bad reputation.”
And according to Jim Boyce, Vice President of FIFA, the press is not the only source of negative attacks. “We are not only talking about the English press – the FA have come out and made certain statements regarding FIFA” said the Northern Irish ExCo member.
“There is a perception that when England lost the bid, that’s when most of the adverse criticism started. Some of the criticism is entirely justified, but an awful lot is not entirely justified.
“There are a lot of good people in FIFA – they shouldn’t all be tarnished with the same image. I am proud to finish my career as being Vice President of FIFA.”
The challenge for FIFA is to communicate its positive contributions to the world. “I am not blaming the media; I think we have to blame ourselves,” said D’Hooghe.
“We need to have better communication of the good things that FIFA is doing. Do you hear about 20 centres for hope? Do you hear about restoration of sports facilities after the tsunami? 75 per cent of all FIFA funding goes back into infrastructure.
“Whoever is or will be president, this will be one of his first obligations: to restore confidence in FIFA, to prove to the world that FIFA wants to good for people all over the world. We are promoting football for health to youth in many countries.
Another major priority is to tackle the issue of transparency. “We are challenging transparency and integrity, to restore confidence in FIFA, to prove to people that FIFA wants to good,” said D’Hooghe.
Also on the panel was Moya Dodd, who joined FIFA’s Executive Committee in 2013. “I get people asking me how it feels to be part of the problem now I’ve joined the FIFA ExCo,” she said. “It’s difficult for people from outside it to understand how it works.
“What’s important is that the leadership of any organisation at board level is independent from the day-to-day flow of interests that tend to make decision-making difficult.”