World Cup voting spurs demand for a more democratic FIFA

The aftermath of England’s failure to win the right to host World Cup 2018 has seen much handwringing about the state of football’s governing body FIFA, with the Sepp Blatter-led organisation heavily criticised for a lack of openness in the voting procedure. But even before Russia were revealed as World Cup hosts in eight years time, a group known as ChangeFIFA was campaigning for reform.

Oliver Fowler, part of the movement, said: “There were many good reasons to start up a campaign. There was no one moment of realisation – just years of wondering how long the status-quo would go on for culminating in a ‘right, let’s sort this out’ moment.” And support has only grown after England’s bid – rated by FIFA’s own technical report as the best of the World Cup 2018 hopefuls – was eliminated in the first round of voting. “The interest after the bidding votes were announced has been fantastic. People care about football and do not want to see the game being brought into disrepute. The bid focussed people’s attention on how the game is being run.

Fowler does not feel FIFA lost their credibility over the World Cup voting. Rather, the questions surrounding the bidding simply shined a light on to an existing problem. He said: “The executive committee system and the bribery allegations connected with it brought mass public attention to the way FIFA has been run. The vote was just a symptom of a greater problem. Their credibility was already crumbling. The vote simply highlighted it to the majority of fans.” Fowler added: “Complete overhaul is the only way, but even then many fans would still be suspicious.

ChangeFIFA certainly proposes complete overhaul of the way football is governed, including individual fans becoming members of FIFA. “In an ideal world it would be fantastic if each fan who signed up could vote on key decisions. That would range from fans deciding where a world competition would be held to who was player of the year,” Fowler said. He continued: “Of course, the most important decision would be on who was to run the organisation. In reality it may be logistically too complicated, but it is certainly the most attractive option as it takes away any threat of backroom dealing.

It is normally impossible to create the perfect system. What we are demanding though is that any change is democratic, transparent and with the best interests of the game at heart. When we get a new body to be proud of we want it to be nigh on impossible to abuse.

Fowler is energized about the prospects of ChangeFIFA. He said: “These are exciting times for football. A game with a clear conscience and the inclusion of fans can only be a good thing. Naturally that won’t come without hard work, but the reward will be worth it. There has been lots of encouragement from current and ex-players, managers and people working for clubs. Nobody is happy with the way world football is being handled.

To read more from ChangeFIFA visit their website.

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