‘No room for wrongdoing’ in FIFA, says governing body President

There is ‘no room for wrongdoing’ in ‘the new FIFA’, according to the governing body’s President, Gianni Infantino.

Speaking at the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Infantino laid out some of the foundations put in place to ward off the ‘main threats’ to the sport, including a ‘groundbreaking financial support scheme’.

“During the pandemic, we have again put this into practice with the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan, an unprecedented 1.5 billion dollar fund to support football through difficult times,” he remarked at the event. “In football’s hour of need, funding only goes where it is needed.

“Through the FIFA Forward Programme, we provide each of our 211 member associations worldwide with up to five times more investment than they received before 2016. But the key difference is that each and every dollar of this investment is tied to specific contracts, and external independent audits in each and every country.”

Last year, a report published by Europol disclosed that sport, including football, was at a ‘greater risk’ of match-fixing as a result of the ‘changing circumstances’ caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The 50-year-old explained how FIFA must ‘remain even more vigilant’ as a result of the ‘financial strains’ brought on by the pandemic, which could make individuals not involved in games more susceptible to the practice of match-fixing.

The governing body has already aligned with a number of specialised agencies, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Health Organization, UN Women, UNESCO, the World Food Programme, the Council of Europe, the African Union, and ASEAN.

“Recognising the natural limits of our experience and expertise, we are forming global alliances with international and regional organisations to fight malpractices and help bring about positive social change.

“FIFA is a proud ally of UNODC,” he added. “We are truly thankful for the partnership that we established with UNODC last year to tackle one of the toughest issues facing our sport, including child safeguarding, protecting sport integrity and preventing crime.

“The common elements to these agreements include good governance, the protection of the integrity of sport, and the safeguarding of children.”

Elaborating on the memorandum of understanding signed with UNODC as part of the collaboration, Infantino commented: “We are currently discussing to potentially establish an independent, multi-sports, multi-government and multi-agency ‘international centre for safe sports’ to help manage cases of abuse of children in sport.”

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