Part of Sportingintelligence’s guide to the 2016 FIFA presidential election: HOME PAGE here
How the manifesto promises compare
NB – this article was published on the date below and reflects manifesto documents on that date. For updates, see the candidate profile pages via home page above
29 November 2015
With less than three months to go, the first FIFA Presidential election in 18 years without Sepp Blatter as a candidate appears to be curiously downbeat to the casual observer.
Occasional media items appear about the candidates – generally friendly ones planted by their various PR apparatchiks – but not much of real substance. For the five candidates, the only people who count are the 209 member associations of FIFA and the six continental confederations.
So when it comes to what the candidates actually stand for, what is it exactly and how do they compare?
“I have dared to imagine a future in which we are the very best that we can be.”
At a glance
Prince Ali has a glossy 15-page corporate-style brochure that was produced in May for the earlier Presidential election in which he garnered 73 votes against Blatter. It is based on two key themes: the ‘virtuous circle’ of development and commercial success, and FIFA as a service organisation.
- Guarantee of minimum basic financial assistance grant of $1 million to each member association, an increase from the current level of $250,000.
- More investment (unquantified) in grassroots football, capacity-building, girls’ and women’s football and women’s and youth tournaments.
- Increase in the number of teams at the World Cup from 32 to 36 with the increased spots going to AFC, CAF and CONCACAF (one each) and half-a-spot each to CONMEBOL and Oceania.
- Establishment of formal continental rotation scheme for future hosting of the World Cup.
- Inclusion of human rights requirements in selecting future World Cup hosts – but fully support Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022.
- Establishment of a Football Committee to ‘consider and review’ football issues, including use of technology.
- Improved financial outcome by protecting and increasing FIFA’s revenues and minimising costs.
- Publication of the Garcia Report in full.
- Clear separation of powers between the FIFA President and FIFA administration.
- Protection from exploitation, racism, match-fixing and doping.
- A little like Ali himself perhaps. Means well but short on detail and no costings.
- No clear view of how he will change the culture of football.
- Appears to favour an approach of a traditional corporate-style organisation with President as a Board Chairman and executive management.
“Re-balance the game in a globalised 21st century.”
At a glance:
Champagne’s manifesto was also prepared for his failed candidacy for May 2015, incorporated into a series of ‘monthly letters’. It is based on three pillars: of greater democracy and inclusiveness; a more equitable share of the wealth; and improved governance.
- Re-formed Executive Committee with guaranteed number of positions for presidents of member associations, women and professional players, with additional spots for every confederation except UEFA.
- Formalise relationship of confederations with FIFA.
- Expansion of membership of FIFA to include more Oceania states and Kosovo.
- ‘Discussion’ on the allocation of the 32 spots for the World Cup.
- Establishment of a ‘High World Council for the development of football’ to look at more equitable distribution of resources amongst FIFA’s membership.
- Double the financial assistance grant to $500,000 for the 100 member associations with the lowest revenues.
- Additional financial assistance for Oceania and the Caribbean.
- Building 400 football pitches in four years.
- Establishment of taskforces to target development in China, India and Indonesia.
- Re-prioritising the importance of national team football.
- Establishment of a central procurement office.
- Publicise President’s salary.
- Delegate management of commercial contracts to FIFA staff, not the President or Executive Committee.
- Implement a savings program with a target of 5% cost reduction ($200 million) over four years with savings diverted to development.
- New organisational structure including re-shaping the role of General Secretary to more of a Chief of Staff than CEO.
- Negotiate a collective bargaining agreement between players and clubs/leagues.
- Improve the operation of FIFA Congress.
- Establishment of a ‘FIFA Club’ comprised of players from all member associations.
- Establishment of a ‘FIFA Foundation’ for corporate social responsibility programs.
- Launch an online course on the business of football.
- Reflects the level of detail to be expected from someone who has worked on the inside of FIFA.
- Leaves some major issues to committees/task forces.
- Sees the role of President as an Executive Chairman with specific executive duties and management of staff.
Infantino’s candidacy is so far short on detail. He has not yet published a manifesto, although he indicated more than one month ago that his detailed program wasn’t far away.
Infantino’s public pronouncements appear limited to expanding the World Cup to 40 places, probably by 2026.
- Despite an apparent lack of a manifesto, Infantino has the support of the UEFA Executive and CONMEBOL.
Another candidate who has not yet published a manifesto.
Salman has indicated that he:
- will not take a salary as FIFA President – which misses the point of publishing a salary. The issue isn’t whether the FIFA President has a salary, but the level of the salary and the fact that it is not disclosed;
- supports a three-term limit for a total of 12 years;
- will continue to support Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022.
- Considering Salman’s campaign manager is a longstanding back-room courtier at FIFA, practiced in the dark arts of dirty tricks and smears, Salman may well remain a manifesto-free candidate. The advice Salman is likely to receive will be that having a manifesto is totally irrelevant to the outcome of the Presidential election. Unfortunately, in the FIFA world as we know it, that is correct.
- Despite a lack of manifesto, Salman has the back of the AFC Executive Committee and many AFC members.
“It is more than just a game.”
At a glance:
Sexwale declares that his 14-page manifesto is the “basis for a turn-around strategy”. It bears a remarkable resemblance to Champagne’s. Sexwale’s themes include: enhanced democratisation; growing and developing the game worldwide; the promise of a “hands-on” President; boosting finances of member associations; and a focus on anti-racism measures.
- Support for the existing FIFA Reform Committee (even though its recommendations are not yet known).
- Rebalancing the World Cup places and Executive Committee places between the Confederations.
- Increased contribution under the financial assistance programme (but amount unspecified) together with capacity-building measures.
- “Much fairer distribution of funds” to the Confederations (but not specified).
- More playing fields in under-developed areas.
- Consider sponsorship of the national shirt in World Cup qualifying matches and tournament.
- Improved financial support and assistance for smaller member associations (which he thinks totals 205, not 209).
- Special attention to untapped football markets such as China and India, as well as enhanced support for Oceania and CAF, and parts of CONCACAF, Asia and CONMEBOL.
- Improved support for women’s football.
- A “thumb on the FIFA pulse” as FIFA President.
- FIFA ExCo to consider possible increase in number of places at the World Cup.
- Establishment of an Anti-Racism Task Force.
- Zero tolerance of child trafficking.
- Conduct a Sponsor’s Forum to “give comfort” to sponsors that their concerns are addressed.
- Establishment of an 11-member ‘Eminent Persons Group’ to meet once a year to share views with FIFA, including people ‘eminent in football’ – presumably this means supporters such as Franz Beckenbauer.
- Appears to have picked-up on some key issues identified by Champagne as well as concerns advocated by sponsors and others, but dealt with superficially.
- Establishes some new structures/committees.
- Tries to touch a number of hot buttons for member associations but with no specificity or detail.
How the candidates score
Kudos to Prince Ali, Champagne and Sexwale for at least having a manifesto and producing something that people can read. Prince Ali and Champagne also have websites.
Using the nine categories devised by Professor Roger Pielke in An Evaluation of the FIFA Governance Reform Process of 2011-2013 in Managing the Football World Cup, here is the Sportingintelligence scorecard based on the manifestos of the five candidates.
A ✓ means the candidate, in broad terms, agrees with the proposal; a ✗ denotes that they have not addressed it.
The additional initiatives included in the three manifestos that are available, are also loosely grouped using the same scorecard.
Using the simple method of adding the number of ✓ for each candidate, the overall score follows. The maximum score is 19.
In an effort to find out more about what the candidates believe and what they would do as President, Damian Collins MP has written to the five candidates inviting them to take part in an online survey.
The questionnaire can be viewed here. The candidates have also been invited to a 2016 meeting of European Parliamentary members, MPs from other countries and stakeholders in Brussels in January – an outstanding opportunity to present their credentials to a broader audience. Collins says that, to date, only Champagne and Sexwale have confirmed their attendance. Sporting Intelligence will have an updated scorecard following the publication of the survey results and the Brussels meeting.
The fact that Infantino and Salman have so far failed to produce a manifesto, and that they have nonetheless locked-in support from at least three confederations between them, is a sad indictment on the ‘FIFA Way’ and the state of world football administration.
Just like the World Cup votes on 2 December 2010, it is clear that the Presidential election will not be won and lost on a contest of ideas, but on backroom deals.
In a recent interview, the outgoing billionaire President of the Australian football association, who presided over almost AUS$50 million of public expenditure on a World Cup bid that garnered one vote using FIFA’s ultimate back-room courtiers, summed up the attitude of those in power in football around the world to external reform when he said: “Just because someone is like Kofi Annan, it’s not enough. You need someone steeped in the game.”
FIFA’s member associations, reform committee chief Francois Carrard and his committee of insiders, may want to continue to claim that only FIFA and football people can reform FIFA, but they may well be the only people in the world who believe it.