FIFA President discusses threats to football at UN crime and justice congress

President Infantino addresses special event on safeguarding sport from corruption and crime
FIFA protecting “not just football and its institutions, but also the very people that practise the sport”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has featured at the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to discuss the main threats to football and how the sport’s global governing body is tackling them.

Invited to speak as part of a special event on safeguarding sport from corruption and crime, President Infantino said that, with a rock-solid commitment to good governance, the new FIFA has laid solid foundations to eliminate corruption from football:

“Through the FIFA Forward Programme, we provide each of our 211 member associations worldwide with up to five times more investment than they received before 2016. But the key difference is that each and every dollar of this investment is tied to specific contracts, and external independent audits in each and every country. The new FIFA leaves no room for wrongdoing.”

And, referring to FIFA’s ground-breaking financial support scheme devised and rolled out last year, he went on: “During the pandemic, we have again put this into practice with the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan, an unprecedented 1.5 billion dollar fund to support football through difficult times. In football’s hour of need, funding only goes where it is needed.”

Vigilance and compliance

On other threats to the integrity of football, the FIFA President raised the issue of match manipulation, saying that, “with the financial strains of the recent pandemic, we will have to remain even more vigilant than ever to ensure that those involved in matches are not susceptible to match-fixing”.

And, through FIFA’s work to reform the transfer system, the organisation is striving to ensure the fair and correct distribution of money “in compliance with national and international financial regulations, including applicable anti-money laundering laws”.

Protecting the very people that practise the sport

Having set up the FIFA Guardians Programme with UNICEF, the Council of Europe and Safe Sport International to help prevent any risk of harm to children and those most vulnerable, and to respond appropriately if concerns arise, FIFA is looking to do even more in the fight against one of the most serious crimes in society.

“FIFA is a proud ally of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),” the FIFA President said. “We are truly thankful for the partnership that we established with UNODC last year to tackle one of the toughest issues facing our sport, including child safeguarding, protecting sport integrity and preventing crime.”

Referring to the memorandum of understanding signed with the UNODC, the FIFA President added: “We are currently discussing to potentially establish an independent, multi-sports, multi-government and multi-agency “international centre for safe sports” to help manage cases of abuse of children in sport.”

Only as strong as our networks

President Infantino asserted that FIFA’s strength in tacking these issues lay in its collaboration with specialised agencies.

“Recognising the natural limits of our experience and expertise, we are forming global alliances with international and regional organisations to fight malpractices and help bring about positive social change.

“Since 2018, we have entered into collaboration agreements with such globally recognised authorities as the UNODC, the World Health Organization, UN Women, UNESCO, the World Food Programme, the Council of Europe, the African Union, and ASEAN.

“The common elements to these agreements include good governance, the protection of the integrity of sport, and the safeguarding of children.”

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