Infantino wields funding threat to make FAs put their houses in order

Fri Nov 4, 2016 9:46am EDT
 
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Soccer's governing body FIFA is cutting off cash to national football associations that fail to meet basic standards of transparency as its new boss works to clean up the sport after years of corruption scandals.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in an interview this week that the organization was keeping a closer eye on its 211 member associations (FAs) to ensure they use funds properly and are not subject to political interference.

FIFA told Reuters that 23 FAs, more than 10 percent of the total, currently have their funding blocked for failing to meet the requirements. It did not identify them or say when FIFA had cut off their money.

Infantino, elected in February to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter, said FIFA had set up 11 regional offices around the world to keep a closer eye on the FAs.

"I want to make sure we have systems in place where we can assist and monitor all associations on a regular basis so we are not taken by surprise by a given country," he said.

Some of the requirements were very basic, such as producing audited financial statements, which he said "seems obvious but didn't happen in many countries."

"If you want to be eligible (for funding) you need to be able to show your revenues, your costs, basic things."

In more serious cases, FIFA can intervene or even suspend FAs. The world body took over the running of the Argentine FA in June after it became immersed in a financial and governance crisis, including a presidential election which ended in a 38-38 tie even though only 75 delegates had a vote.   Continued...

 
FIFA President Gianni Infantino gestures during an interview with Reuters at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann