Trust in FIFA has improved only slightly under Gianni Infantino, survey finds

• Survey of fans in 50 countries finds 53% do not have confidence in Fifa

• ‘We wait for more concrete actions,’ says Transparency International

The Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, has made only a marginal improvement to football supporters’ confidence in the game’s world governing body during his year in charge, according to a survey by the opinion platform Forza Football endorsed by the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International.
Of 25,000 supporters in 50 countries who responded to the survey, 98% said they remain concerned about corruption at Fifa, and only 26% said they believed Infantino had restored trust in the organisation.
Infantino himself described Fifa as at “rock bottom” when he took over after the corruption scandals, criminal indictments in the US and substantial Fifa ethics committee bans of the former president Sepp Blatter and Uefa president Michel Platini over a payment of 2m Swiss francs to Platini, which led to Infantino’s candidacy.
More than half of the survey respondents, 53%, said they do not have confidence in Fifa, an improvement of only 16% on the 69% expressing that sentiment in a survey carried out while Blatter was still the president. Almost half, 43%, said that they disapproved of Russia as the hosts for next year’s World Cup, but the survey did not ask for specific reasons for this disapproval.
Transparency International acknowledged that the survey was not a statistically representative poll but nevertheless argued that it indicates the further work Fifa must do to restore confidence. Cobus de Swardt, special representative at TI, said: “It takes more than a year to win back trust. A year is a short time to turn around an organisation that had become synonymous with corruption, so we wait for more concrete actions.”
Since his election on 26 February last year Infantino has steered through the expansion of the 2026 World Cup to 48 teams, increased to $5m the money going to national football associations for development, and Fifa has sued for damages its former executive committee members and officials now indicted for alleged criminal corruption by the US authorities.
But the new president, formerly the general secretary at Uefa, was himself subjected to a Fifa ethics committee investigation following his initial refusal to accept a salary package of 1.95m Swiss francs which he was heard describing in a leaked recording of a Fifa council meeting as “insulting”. Infantino was cleared by the investigation into that and allegations of a conflict of interest in his acceptance of private jet flights, and in October he launched his new plan entitled “Fifa 2.0 – The Vision for the Future”, in which he has sought to put football development at the centre of Fifa’s purpose.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou shake hands as they attend opening ceremony of a sport complex in Niamey, Niger on February 28, 2017.
In an open letter published on the anniversary of his election last week, Infantino admitted to mistakes, although he did not specify what they were, and emphasised the “full focus on football” of his plans. These include a new development programme, Fifa Forward, which combines the increased $5m (£4m) to every national football association, with tighter auditing of how the money is spent.
Infantino accepted that trust in Fifa is not yet restored, and said the new structures at the organisation were aimed “to literally force good governance upon the organisation”, but the letter did not explicitly mention the corruption scandals and ongoing criminal and ethics committee proceedings. In May the then chairman of the audit and compliance committee, Domenico Scala, resigned after Infantino succeeded in securing a Fifa congress vote in favour of granting the council power to remove Scala and the chairmen of the ethics committee.
More recently there have been reports that Infantino will seek at the May congress in Bahrain to have alternative candidates proposed, to replace the current chairmen of the ethics committee’s two “chambers”, the German judge Hans‑Joachim Eckert and the Swiss lawyer Cornel Borbély, who have signalled their willingness to continue.
Fifa said in a statement that it welcomed the Forza Football survey as a means of understanding the expectations of supporters: “Fifa acknowledges the gravity of the crisis that assailed the organisation nearly two years ago and how misconduct from former football officials has tarnished Fifa’s public image,” a spokesperson said. “This is comprehensible and cannot be changed overnight – or from one year to the other.”
Minister of Sports and Culture Lt Col Patrice Rugambwa, FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Rwandese Association Football Federation (FERWAFA) President Vincent De Gaulle Nzamwita pour champagne on the construction site of the FERWAFA Hotel in Kigali on February 25, 2017. The 44-room hotel will cost USD 8 million (EUR 7.57 million), a part of which FIFA has promised to finance.
The spokesperson, however, pointed to “concrete measures to restructure [Fifa’s] administration, change its internal culture and establish a zero-tolerance policy towards wrongdoing. These measures must trickle down to the six confederations and the 211 member associations, and Fifa is working towards that as well.”
The specific reforms cited included the formal separation of the Fifa council to perform a strategic role, from the executive’s day-to-day running of the organisation, led by the secretary general Fatma Samoura; disclosure of the salaries of senior management – Infantino ultimately accepted a salary of 1.5m Swiss francs plus a home in Zurich, car and expenses – and the creation of a compliance division for internal audit, incorporating anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies.
In response to the reports about alternative candidates to Eckert and Borbély, the spokesperson said: “Please understand that we can’t speculate about any matters that are subject to the decision of the congress delegates.”
So, what do you think of Gianni Infantino and his FIFA?
Source: All Football

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