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Compliance Risk

FIFA attempts to leave corruption behind

Susan Byellin

11 Jan 2016

As FIFA faces continued scrutiny for corrupt activities, it is making efforts to prevent future violations. If its efforts are to succeed, it will likely require more than just improved policies, but rather an overall culture of compliance.

The corrupt activities of FIFA have become widely known since the May arrests of many of its high level officials by the US Department of Justice on bribery and racketeering allegations. Scrutiny of the world soccer governing body continues, as the US DOJ just charged another group of FIFA officials in December.

Indeed, there appears to have been high levels of misconduct across FIFA for many years, the body now has a long way to go to ensure an end to such corruption and rebuild its reputation worldwide.

Efforts to prevent future corruption

FIFA has proposed governance reforms, which will go before its congress in February for approval. One of FIFA’s biggest efforts seems to be in ensuring more people are involved in decision-making, therefore providing checks and balances.  One way it will work towards this is by bringing in independent members to oversee major decisions, specifically individuals not financially connected to FIFA or its associations.

In addition, FIFA will try to ensure more oversight by forcing a greater turnover in its high-ranking members. The proposed reforms will put new term limits on the president and FIFA council, allowing no individual to hold their position for more than twelve years. Thus, FIFA hopes that requiring an increase in objective opinions and a greater turnover rate will help prevent corruption in the future.

Additionally, for the first time in its existence, FIFA plans to employ a chief compliance officer. While employing a chief compliance officer is common practice in most large organizations, making FIFA seem a little behind the times, at least it is finally getting one on board. And, indeed, an executive focused on compliance could be just what FIFA needs to truly change its ways.

A culture of compliance

With an organization this large and decentralized, though, ensuring implementation of compliance measures throughout can be very difficult. Indeed, it is virtually impossible for such an expansive organization to oversee day-to-day activities and prevent all non-compliance from the top down.

As such, FIFA will have its work cut out for it in fully eradicating all corruption from the organization. Such a venture cannot be accomplished merely through rules and regulations, but rather, it requires a culture of compliance. The very culture of the organization, throughout its expanse, needs to be focused on the importance of ethical behavior.

The idea is that the organization as a whole would be so devoted to acting ethically, that it would permeate all levels, and it would become the norm to question any signs of corruption. While building a culture of compliance takes time and effort, it ensures best practices in a way no anti-corruption policy alone can elicit.

Compliance training

As companies strive to achieve a culture of compliance, they may wish to look to the Thomson Reuters Conduct Risk training courses, which help to instill in employees a positive attitude towards ethics and proactive compliance. Thomson Reuters also offers many courses for specific areas of compliance, such as the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Bribery training course.


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