Beyond the News
Every year “The Public Eye on Davos” conference nominates 2 companies with an award that no one wants to receive: “award of shame”. One is given by the general public that may vote online here, and the other is chosen by a jury with experts from several different areas, including human rights, environment and business. Based on their researches and analysis, companies are pre-listed into a pool that lasts until January of following year, when a conference in parallel to World Economic Forum is held in Davos, Switzerland, to announce the winners.
This year, FIFA is rating high on the list; and so far holds the second position behind the giant oil company Gazprom, for coincidence an organization well involved in football events by sponsoring several teams and the UEFA Champions League.
According to the conference organizers, FIFA enters the ranking for contributing “to the violation of several human rights, such as the right to adequate housing, the right to free movement, the right to work and the right to protest”. All the violations are mainly concerned to the preparation of 2014 Football World Cup in Brazil, where millions of people would have lost their homes to give space for the construction of new stadiums.
The human rights issue was also recently raised to question the preparation of 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Qatari government would be forcing migrants to work in the construction of stadiums across the country. According to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), these workers are submitted to poor working and living conditions. The British newspaper “The Guardian” published several articles on this matter. The latest, from yesterday (December, 1st), describes ITCU’s feedback on Qatar’s 2022 World Cup preparations after its latest visit to the country.
But FIFA could also qualify for the “award of shame” due to another complex issue: money laundering. FIFA is a good example of how fraud can be easily managed in football. Although it is a private company, which governs the most popular sport worldwide, it is registered as a non-for-profit organization, what exempt the institution of any tax responsibility. In other words, the money can come in throughout several business pipelines that cannot be seen by any policy maker, and goes out in an even more complex network. According to FIFA’s Financial Report, “2012 was a very successful year for FIFA, with a positive annual result of USD 89 million”. This represents a USD 1,166 million increase in the company’s revenue. Nevertheless, the construction of stadiums in Brazil has been financed by the country’s tax payers.
The organizers of “Public Eye on Davos” conference will continue their work to pick the 2013 “shame of year” company. It is unlikely that FIFA will change its policies even if the organization wins this award, but it will bring into the spotlight the dirty side of football, which goes beyond the grass pitches worldwide.