The world football body (FIFA) ‘s excessive power over public authorities is slowly exposing the shortcomings that’s brought about transnational governance of football and could force the world football body to implement some reforms.
FIFA who prioritieses in upholding and defending the autonomy of football over public authorities seems to be failing to monitor its national or regional associations. This could be seen in the increasing number of conflicts between FIFA, government authorities and Football Associations over repeated offences as in the case of Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe or Greece.
FIFA has imposed more than 20 suspensions in the last decade. At least six more FAs have been threatened with suspension- ‘Governmental interference’ represents by far the most important trigger for suspension, reflecting FIFA’s uncompromising approach towards safeguarding its power autonomy in football.
However complex dependencies between Football Federations and the government have continuously sparked tension, especially with FIFA’s no third party interference rule which totally excludes the government from monitoring the associations’ activities.
But unlike in most developed countries in Europe, where the Football Federations operate solely from government interference due to their financial independence, in Africa it is different.
Most Football Federations on the continent are not viable due to lack of corporate sponsorship and heavily rely on the government for additional support to develop and improve the game.
Unfortunately when things go haywire in local football – the government is first to blame, yet they are not allowed to intervene in matters of football – even in outright cases where those entrusted by FIFA are accused without a shadow of doubt to be on the wrong side of the law.
Consequently this has encouraged stubbornness and disrespectful towards public authorities perpetuating corrupt and untouchable FA bosses who openly commit crimes and hide behind FIFA statutes.
While FIFA claims to monitor and take stock of these federations, a practical overview shows this is not true as most FAs end up conflicting with public authorities over allegations of corruption.
FIFA merely demands independence from any third party interference and are quick to respond where football’s autonomy seems to be at stake and uses their extreme powers to force regulatory compliance in member associations.
Thus, FIFA membership allows member associations to participate in football’s global competition structure and benefit from it’s revenue streams through the FIFA Forward development program which is vital for national football industries.
Naturally, this provides FIFA with a
privileged position to control and dictate the direction and operations of football as no FA would want to bear the dire consequences brought by a FIFA suspension which excludes an FA (including clubs, referees, administrators, etc.) from the benefits provided by FIFA and is, therefore, likely to severely damage the football economy involved.
However, regulatory compliance does not always equal effective implementation as seen in the case of Zimbabwe where the body continues to run without proper checks and balances.
With the deterioration of football standards in the country that emanates from deserted grassroots development, lack of football facilities, just to name but a few- it is hard to believe that the association has been allocated with a four year budget of USD 6 million for operational and development needs beginning from 2019 and an additional amount of up to USD 1 million for member associations with an annual revenue of USD 4 million or less to support their transport and equipment needs through the FIFA Forward development program
The mismanagement and misappropriation of FIFA and public funds meant for football is quite depressing.
You do not need a telescope to see Zimbabwe football is in chaos. The country’s football body has failed dismally.
Infrastructure development has gone down to the drain. The inability of the body to set up incentive structures to meet up these goals is unpordonable.
Zimbabwe football needs immediate reforms and this has already been set in motion by the country’s public authorities, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) who saw it fit to suspend the incompetent and corrupt ZIFA committee which has nothing to show for their duration in office but scandals of corruption and disintegrating standards of football.
The SRC should be applauded for taking a courageous step to resuscitate Zimbabwe football.
But FIFA’s excessive power have been the stumbling block shielding the Association from facing justice, thereby constantly creating conflicts against public authorities.
However, within the African continent, complex dependencies between Football Associations and governments will serve to limit FIFA’s regulatory powers and force the world football body to implement some reforms as most African governments are always hands on in supporting football activities thereby should be involved in monitoring and taking stock of development in football.
Meanwhile the complicated situation in Zimbabwe has left FIFA in a compromising position and could be forced to make reforms as SRC remains adamant in their attempt to bring Zimbabwe football to normalcy by dissolving the committee.