Leading up the World Cup Finals, delegates from around the world were tasked with writing Position Papers on an incredibly pressing topic- how to reform the International Federation of Football Associations to best suite the needs of national associations and athletes worldwide. We were incredibly impressed by all of the submissions, with a huge range of ideas as to how to reform the organization. Suggestions for a new FIFA decision-making structure, external and internal audits and oversight over any bidding process, greater National Association control over the organization, and even ideas for completely tearing down and building back up the organization were recommended.
Entries were received from 4 continents and a multitude of countries, demonstrating the global nature of FIFA and International Football in general. All of the submissions were filled with great ideas, but we’ve decided to recognize First, Second, and Third Place in this competition with certificates of recognition, as well as a BD T-Shirt for the winner.
First Place- Meghana Bhimreddy
Congratulations to Meghana Bhimreddy, a Freshman at Hillsborough IB High School for coming in 1st place in the position paper contest! Meghana is an Indian national who lives in Tampa, Florida, and she says “As an avid football fan (I can proudly say that I watched almost every single match this FIFA World Cup Tournament!), every allegation of fraud that FIFA faces interests me. It seems extremely ironic that FIFA, which claims to go beyond football and support societies, is doing the very opposite of its slogan (“For the Game. For the World.”). Since football has evolved from being a sport to a unifying force, every decision FIFA makes affects millions of people worldwide. What could be a better reason than the sheer prevalence of football to making sure that decision is pure?”
Below we’ve reproduced the text of her winning paper:
Position Paper for FIFA Reform
Since 1904, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has committed itself to expanding football around the world through international competitions and development programs. Wielding their mantra “For the Game. For the World”, they have succeeded in constructing an organization that reigns considerable influence on the various associations that control the world of soccer. However, their actions in the past few years have gone against the very ideals of the mantra they live by, as allegations of fraud and corruption have been exposed by whistleblowers. As their actions become increasingly publicized, pressure must be exerted upon FIFA to consider reforming its practices before they disgrace their mission.
Although FIFA has proved to be unsuccessful in treating some of the issues and criticism it faces, it must receive commendation for its implementation of certain reform ideas of the Independent Governance Committee (IGC), which was established to supervise and administer solutions to combatting corruption and preserving the integrity of FIFA. They managed to construct an Ethics Committee and implement a confidential reporting mechanism that “systematically manages complaints and allegations of all kinds”. In light of these improvements, numerous solutions by the IGC remain discarded, and additional reform must take place to ensure that FIFA not only retains a prominent role in the football world, but also respects its member associations.
An issue facing intense criticism is FIFA’s practice of imposing unfair burdens and laws on World Cup™ host countries. A prominent example can be found in Brazil’s reluctant lift on the ban that bars alcohol within stadiums. While this emphasizes the prominent role FIFA has and should secure, it is a dangerous precedent to let go unresolved. In fact, many of the major issues FIFA faces arise from the fact that it handles both advertising and administering football, causing conflicting interests. Therefore, FIFA should consider the words of Dave Zirin, a political sportswriter, and formulate a way to spread its responsibilities into two groups: one to handle marketing the sport, and the other to monitor corruption and conduct integrity checks on the members of FIFA’s Congress and Executive Committee. However, these two groups must cooperate to facilitate the organization of competitions. In addition, World Cup™ sponsors – as well as FIFA members – are exempt from taxes and enjoy unrestricted access to the exclusion zones around stadiums. Abandoning these tax exemptions can ease the financial burden on host countries, especially since similar practices were successfully implemented in the London 2012 Olympics.
In addition, FIFA faces criticism for the allegations of bribery and vote-selling incidents unveiled by whistleblowers. Addressing this issue involves increasing transparency regarding gifts and salaries given to members, as well as instituting term limits for all elected members. Although these solutions face disapproval with executives who value their privileges and freedom, it is extremely imperative to sustain a confident relationship with the public and member associations. Increased cooperation with the media can help ensure this connection, and endow FIFA with a credibility that it desperately needs.
Despite all the efforts FIFA can make to preserve the value behind its mission to nurture a world that respects football and the principles of companionship behind it, no solution can be effective if FIFA does not actively support reform. The first step any organization can take to pave the path towards a prosperous solution is to employ the right mindset. FIFA has a long way to go in its fight for a fraud-free reputation, but the right measures and spirit can take it to great heights.
Second Place- Eric Chen
In second place is Eric Chen from Maine, USA, an incoming freshman at Georgetown University. Eric is also an alumnus of Best Delegate’s 2013 Summer Program at Georgetown! When asked why he feels FIFA Reform is important, he responded: “As a lifelong football fan, I’ve enjoyed both watching and playing it in almost every sense. Unfortunately, the issues surrounding FIFA have created an atmosphere that causes many to lose faith not only in the organization, but also the game. Therefore reforming FIFA is essential for restoring its reputation. By extension, such reforms can also renew confidence in the potential of the world’s most international sport to serve as a source of inspiration and common ground in times of conflict.”
For a quick excerpt from Eric’s paper, we picked out our favorite part!
“Rather than being an image of corruption in the football community, they must refocus on what they have the unique capability to be: a source of inspiration for people and a body capable of connecting players and fans from across the globe.”
Third Place- Álvaro París
Álvaro París, from the Instituto Educacional Juan XXIII in Venezuela, took home the third place award in this competition. Álvaro stated that he cares about FIFA Reform because “I care about FIFA reform because it will increase the responsibility of improving football, and it will be give people joy through fair play, rather than anger caused by injustice.”
Alvaro wrote a passionate paper, and we especially enjoyed this part:
“The current FIFA system has been considered by Andrew Jennings as typical organized crime, and it is time to make the organization’s division of tasks more representative and less centralized. When talking about the World Cups’ decisions, it would become acceptable if the location of the competitions is decided by a board of technocratic and independent judges after receiving technical reports from the member associations and considering which one is a better proposal.”
Congratulations to all the winners and all of the participants! For more information on how to write a successful position paper, you can check out this link!