New survey suggests FIFA needs reputational change

FIFA, the world governing body for football, needs to change as its reputation has taken a serious hit following controversy surrounding the voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, according to a survey undertaken by Calacus.

One hundred sports business executives attending the Geneva 2014 International Sports Conference  were asked whether current FIFA President Sepp Blatter should run for a fifth term as President.

A staggering 89% said that they thought it was time for a fresh face.

FIFA vice President HRH Prince Ali of Jordan recently declared his intent to stand on a platform of transparency, joining former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne, who has been lobbying since early last year.

In 2014, FIFA also faced scrutiny surrounding the assessment of the voting for Russia and Qatar for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The subsequent investigation into the voting process by FIFA Ethics Committee investigator Michael Garcia resulted in his resignation, and claimed to be unhappy at the “erroneous” summary which was initially published by the world football governing body.

Of those surveyed, 92% believe that serious damage has been done to football by the handling of the World Cup bid process and subsequent investigation.

FIFA executives have finally agreed to publish a ‘legally appropriate version’ of the Garcia report but it appears as far as sport business is concerned, the damage has already been done.

With its reputation facing such challenges, FIFA and in particular Mr Blatter or whoever wins May’s Presidential election, needs to ensure absolute transparency and the highest possible ethical standards for the custodians of world football.

Mr Blatter and his colleagues are seasoned communicators and highly experienced at running the high profile governing body.

But as the Calacus survey shows, even those who work in the world of sport business have concerns about the management of FIFA – and that may have a longer term impact on sponsorship and broadcasting deals.

Speeches and comments made by Mr Blatter and other senior executives need to show a greater empathy with football fans worldwide and communicate better the grassroots initiatives which underpin the game.

Calacus has worked with major sports governing bodies and administrators providing strategic communications support which helps engage their audiences, attract new fans and reach the stakeholders that matter to them.