While the Asian Cup was producing exciting football by the bucket load and the farce that is FIFA’s presidential election process degenerated into an even lower form of ‘democracy’, changes were afoot in Brussels. It was there that supporters of a bold organisation named New FIFA Now gathered to set in motion the wheels of reform and bring accountability back to football’s organisers.
The brain child of British MP Damian Collins and strategy & public relations advisor turned football administrator Bonita Mersiades, who blew the whistle on Australia’s questionable World Cup bid. Having seen firsthand the ways in which FIFA conducts its business, Collins and Mersiades teamed up and decided to launch New FIFA Now, aiming to bring unilateral organisational reform to FIFA.
The Brussels summit was attended by members of various European parliaments and stakeholders within a number of confederations, with Lord Triesman, a key figure in England’s 2018 World Cup bid, a central figure.
Triesman said that FIFA was governed by “a deeply flawed set of people” and eluding to New FIFA Now’s desire for wider reform, added that “tinkering with the arrangements around FIFA” would not be enough to change its culture of corruption.
Mersiades herself has mentioned that FIFA’s “culture of silence” is conducive to corrupt activity and protects those engaged in dubious dealings. The fact that a number of members on FIFA’s Executive Committee have been found guilty of corruption attests to this.
Where New FIFA Now differs from previous campaigns to create change within football’s governing body is that there is no push for a single figurehead to be removed or replaced. It is not a headhunting exercise with Sepp Blatter the main target, it is a movement that seeks to repair the ills of FIFA’s actions and prevent transgressions occurring again. What good is removing Blatter if someone fills his shoes and has the same freedom to do what he or she likes, with the very same lack of genuine accountability?
There is no longer just a whiff of corruption emanating from FIFA’s Zurich headquarters, it is an undeniable stench and the aim of New FIFA Now is to restore credibility to the governing body with an overhaul of governance.
One company who has seen New FIFA Now’s fight as a noble and just cause is Skins, the hugely popular Australian owned sportswear manufacturer. Skins Chairman Jaimie Fuller told Football Central that his brand wanted to represent the “true spirit of competition, including values and ethics”, something that one could argue has long disappeared from FIFA’s list of priorities.
“Sport is generationally inclusive and that comes with an element of responsibility. That responsibility involves championing values and ethics on and off the field, and all sports, especially football, need to have custodians who hold these values at heart,” Fuller said.
One issue for those who aspire to reform football is turning the apathetic approach to FIFA into genuine support. New FIFA Now and Skins have taken a unique approach to generating a vocal backing, with a range of humorous items listed on www.officialnonsponsor.com, including noise cancelling headphones that “protect you from FIFA’s bulls**t” and bags with ergonomic handles “to help FIFA get a grip”.
The third activism cause that Skins has been involved in, the company also decided to become the first ‘official non sponsor’ of FIFA, an initiative that has brought widespread publicity and support to New FIFA Now’s fight to reform the governing body.
“We looked at what FIFA had been doing and we said ‘This is wrong, we can’t let it go on like this, and someone has got to do something about it’, so we decided to become the first official non-sponsor of FIFA,” Fuller told Football Central.
“The way in which FIFA has conducted itself shows distain and disrespect to the people. We need people who are ethically upright.
“New FIFA Now is not here to endorse any candidate but is here to encourage and guide the reform process.”
Whilst the road ahead for New FIFA Now will be a long one, paved with strong opposition and a dismissive attitude from FIFA’s powerbrokers, their fight is a necessary one. Collins, Mersiades, Fuller and Triesman should be applauded for their desire to see the keys to the world game given back to those who value its spirit and beauty most – the few billion people who love football, not the few who make billions from it.
More information on the progress and aims of New FIFA Now, as well as a petition to sign in support of the overhaul of FIFA can be found at http://www.newfifanow.org/