A global survey of football fans has shown that trust in FIFA has marginally improved under new President Gianni Infantino – but that world football’s governing body still faces a huge task to transform its tarnished reputation.
Transparency International and Forza Football, a football fan opinion platform with more than three million subscribers, ran a survey of 25,000 fans from more than 50 countries between February 17 and 28.
The results showed that 53% of respondents have no confidence in FIFA under new president Gianni Infantino, compared to 69% in 2016 under former president Sepp Blatter.
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 of Transparency International, 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.”
After his election just over a year ago, Infantino promised to win back the trust of fans and reform FIFA after several years of scandals and the arrest of senior officials in 2015. Last month he wrote an open letter about progress achieved so far and referred to the FIFA 2.0 strategy.
- In the survey, 44% of respondents said they did not think Infantino had restored trust in FIFA yet, with 25% saying they did and 30% responding ‘don’t know’.
- In answer to the question ‘is FIFA actively working against corruption in football?’, 46% said ‘no’ – with this being as high as 70% in Germany and 55% in the UK. Overall 34% said ‘yes’.
- With regards to the ‘areas of corruption’ which concern fans the most, 66% said match-fixing, 56% bribery of referees, 30% third-party ownership and 29% human rights abuses. Human rights abuses feature amongst the lowest concerns despite significant media coverage of the treatment of migrant workers during the preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
- Finally 43% said they disapproved of the 2018 World Cup being held in Russia, though no reasons were given for this. Around 70% of Irish, Dutch, Swedish and British fans were opposed, but unsurprisingly 88% of Russian fans were in favour.
Recently Children Win reported on an event in Zurich entitled ‘Is FIFA change for real?’, co-organised by Terre des Hommes and Solidar Suisse, where FIFA’s Head of Sustainability and Diversity Federico Addiechi described how FIFA is currently more concerned about implementing changes on the ground, than its public profile.
“FIFA does not do this work in order to bring its reputation to a higher place,” he said. “We do it because it is our responsibility. It’s the responsibility of every organization around the world to care about human rights.”
FIFA has now incorporated the United Nations’ Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights into its statutes.