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Watchdog slams associations for compounding corruption risk

Photo credit: AFP.

Photo credit: AFP.

Anti-graft watchdog Transparency International (TI) on Thursday blasted scandal-plagued FIFA’s member national football associations for compounding the risk of corruption through a lack of transparency. The Berlin-based non-governmental organization said the various FAs’ reluctance to publish financial information had contributed to tarnishing the image of soccer.

“Most of the 209 national football associations that make up FIFA, world football’s governing body, publish little or no information on what they do and how they spend their money,” TI said.

There was a dearth of published financial accounts, governing statutes, codes of conduct and annual activity reports, despite the fact that they received more than $1 million (930,000 euros) each from FIFA in 2014, added TI. A survey of their websites had found that 81 percent had no financial records publicly available, 21 percent had no websites and 85 percent published no activity accounts of what they do, TI said.

SEE MORE: Swiss probe has found over 120 suspicious transactions linked to 2018, 2022 World Cups

“The risk of corruption at too many football associations around the world is high. This problem is made worse by the lack of information such as audited financial statements by many associations,” said the group’s head Cobus de Swardt.

“FIFA needs to enforce better governance on its members as well as on itself. The good that football can do is tarnished when corruption is allowed to flourish.”

Only 14 members published sufficient information “to let people know what they do, how they spend their money and what values they believe in,” said the group. They were the associations of Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

Transparency said FIFA should require all national members and regional confederations to make audited financial accounts and other key documents publicly available, and also publish them on its own website.

In response to the report, FIFA said it “is committed to reform, and to instituting best-practice standards of accountability, transparency and good governance.” Steps would be discussed at an upcoming FIFA Executive Committee meeting on Dec. 2-3, including obliging associations to publish their statutory annual reports and activity reports.

“We note that Transparency International’s methodology for its report, which appears to consist of a search of Internet pages, does not reflect the significant reporting that already exists at member association level and between member associations and FIFA,” it added.

SEE MORE: FIFA watchdog warns ‘corruption is systemic’ in soccer.

FIFA is embroiled in a massive corruption scandal with its president Sepp Blatter suspended along with UEFA chief Michel Platini as Swiss authorities investigate alleged criminal mismanagement at the body. US authorities have in parallel charged 14 FIFA officials and sports business executives over involvement in more than $150 million dollars of bribes for business contracts.

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