FIFA Corruption – Above the Law

Wowed by FIFA.  Can small countries FIFA votes be bought for the price of some grass, bleachers and fencing?
Wowed by FIFA. Can small countries FIFA votes be bought for the price of some grass, bleachers and fencing?

The arrests in Zurich of the sports world’s most powerful executives yesterday may signal an important change in what is arguably the most popular sport in the world.

For decades, FIFA, its President Sepp Blatter, and his executive team have been unaffected by consistent accusations of corruption related to their choice of sports venues for the World Cup, regional events, and their doling out stadiums to small countries around the world as part of their elections strategy.

For years they have generally been viewed as above the law of nations.

I saw first hand the swooning of government officials in East Timor during Mr. Blatter’s visit. The national police and their counterparts in Portugal’s Guardia National Republica, provided 24-hour security for Mr. Blatter as he was afforded the attention reserved for heads of state.

Leaving behind a small football pitch and small office building named after the local Prime Minister, Mr. Blatter was whisked away to the next venue, ahead of the June 2011 elections.

Drop a little candy to get the votes of the smaller countries.

Receive a lot of candy for the choice of the World Cup venue.

Dramatic corruption allegations surround FIFA. The corruption case against the FIFA officials will doubtless shed more light on the truth of FIFA’s operations that goes beyond allegations.

Sepp Blatter ran unopposed in the 2011 FIFA elections and was re-elected for a fourth term with 186 of the 203 votes.

In his campaign, Blatter had stipulated that if re-elected in 2011, he would not run again for president.  Despite this promise, he is seen as the front-runner for the next elections.

Collecting corruption evidence against high ranking officials is quite difficult. Especially when that evidence may implicate other important officials in national governments around the world.

Thus, it is not at all clear what results will flow from the arrests and whether Blatter will eventually be included.   Regardless of the legal outcome, responsibility for the state of FIFA’s affairs falls squarely on Mr. Blatter’s shoulders.

Catching people in wrong doing AFTER it has occurred is far more expensive than anti-corruption through prevention.  The harms have already occurred and prosecution will never truly make individuals or society “whole.”

For this reason the importance of the FIFA arrests may be their role as a catalyst for change in FIFA and other international sports activities in the future.

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Social Media and Anti-Corruption

 

Cover-NewToolsforFightingCorruptioninOrganizationsThere is a battle happening in Traditional and Social Media right now.  A battle for your mind.

The battles attempt to define the reality of what is happening in Gaza and in Ukraine. Victory will go to the side that successfully convinces us what to believe is the “truth” in these countries.

This same problem goes beyond national political maneuvering to include to anti-corruption.  (And often includes the same players.

Indeed, the truth about things is difficult to sort out, certainly in “traditional media” where nations are engaged in the paid PR Battles (Admittedly, this is only one side of the PR battle but you can see a sampling of Russia’s PR program Here. And Here.   Similar references can be found on national PR strategies involving Gaza, the U.S. and every other country.

Using the information channels to influence our opinions is not especially underhanded, in my view. It’s advocacy. Its advocacy until it becomes deception to create public support based upon lies and disinformation.

Unfortunately that leaves us with few alternatives for finding the truth of things.

The Social Media Battle Ground

As governments begin to intrude into the social media space as part of their effort to advocate and inform our opinions we will all face some interesting challenges.

We will have to sort through the wild collection of:

  • Informed opinion,
  • Uniformed opinion,
  • Advocacy, and
  • Disinformation and Deception.

Fake public interest and “support” is increasingly well known in social media. Indeed, in some instances it is openly encouraged.

I don’t have any answers on this, but the basic truth is that more transparency (observation of the truth) can only help. And social media, indeed any media, can be an essential tool to improve situations.  I’ve talked about this here and here.

Cutting through the fictitious public comment/support/protests will be an increasing challenge.

But where “traditional” reporters are only paid to report the sexy, violent or sensational, where is the actual transparency and accountability that is needed to influence good behavior?

Traditional media is simply not enough. I’ll take the disorganized mob of social media over “traditional media.”

I look forward to your thoughts.

Brian Pinkowski

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If you are looking for everyday tools to help you in your fight against corruption – try these:

Cover-NewToolsforFightingCorruptioninOrganizations

 

 

 

 

Corruption Prevention and the Art of War

Gradients in Anti-Corruption. B. Pinkowski
Gradients in Anti-Corruption. B. Pinkowski

The Highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plan. Sun Tzu

The key idea in corruption prevention is . . . prevention. To stop something from happening before it can occur. Indeed, prevention is the heart of “anti-corruption.” This is discussed further in Gradients of Anti-Corruption and is depicted in the graphic above.

The Gradients are:

  1. Awareness
  2. Prevention
  3. Detection
  4. Correction

Continue reading “Corruption Prevention and the Art of War”

Decay of Social Agreements

Disagreement about the purpose of streets and sidewalks.
Disagreement about the purpose of streets and sidewalks.

Most corruption is well beyond “simple” violations of the law.  Corruption is the action of process of decay of something.  Criminal forms of corruption are violations of the written laws.

Other forms of corruption erode away the foundations of the social agreements we make about how society should function.  For example, in the photo above, there are cars parked all over the sidewalks, and people are forced to walk in the streets.  This happens in many countries and cities around the world and creates a tsunami of small obstacles for pubic policy makers that are trying to build economies. Continue reading “Decay of Social Agreements”

Fear, Social Media and Anti-Corruption

Corruption Complaint form
Can’t I Just Complain About it on Twitter?

When I write about the role of social media and anti-corruption I typically get a couple of types of responses.

Group 1.   Social Media is Chaos

This group contains people who are concerned about the undisciplined and seemingly ungovernable nature of social media.  It is, in the view of some of my colleagues, a dangerous environment where lies and mean spirited comments can take on a life of their own and the originators of the comments are not accountable for the damage they may cause. Continue reading “Fear, Social Media and Anti-Corruption”

How to Strengthen Corruption Prevention Through Mid-Level Management

Politicians Talk About Corruption – Brian Pinkowski
Leadership in Anti-Corruption
Leadership in Anti-Corruption

Leadership sets the example.

It’s as true in the leadership of Nations and corporations as it is in the leadership of small government departments.

Where leadership abuses or misuses the authority of their position, the entire organization decays beneath them.

Continue reading “How to Strengthen Corruption Prevention Through Mid-Level Management”

Social Media in the Fight Against Corruption

Seizing Control of Social Media.  B. Pinkowski
Seizing Control of Social Media.   B. Pinkowski

Social media offers a tool for everyone and anyone to increase the transparency of actions that people and governments would otherwise hide.  Traditional media, while it can be quite effective on occasion, has some fundamental obstacles to being an effective tool to fight corruption now and in the future. 

“The media is too concentrated, too few people own too much.  There’s really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear.  It’s not healthy.”  Ted Turner.

Of course, the truth of Mr. Turner’s words reveals two unavoidable tensions:  (that are discussed further in the remainder of the article) Continue reading “Social Media in the Fight Against Corruption”