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The man who helped change cycling has set his sights on real Fifa reform

Sports ethics campaigner Jaimie Fuller believes real change is possible.

Jaimie Fuller is a passionate advocate of change in Fifa.
Jaimie Fuller is a passionate advocate of change in Fifa.
Image: SKINS

SPORTS ETHICS CAMPAIGNER Jaimie Fuller believes we may never have a better opportunity to change the way world football is run but warns that, if Fifa reform does not happen, then “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” will only lead to the “nuclear option” of starting again in the not too distant future.

Fuller, the owner and chairman of the compression sportswear company SKINS, was part of the campaign group Change Cycling Now which helped oust Pat McQuaid as the president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), bringing and end to the regime that had presided over the Lance Armstrong era.

After a meeting with Bonita Mersiades — a former Football Federation of Australia employee who emerged as a World Cup bidding corruption whistleblower — Fuller turned his attention to football and what he believes is the disfigurement of the beautiful game.

Reacting to the news Jerome Valcke had been suspended by Fifa over allegations relating to a World Cup tickets scheme, Fuller said he was not surprised.

“Ordinarily you’d say it’s beyond belief but it’s not is it?” he told The42 before news broke of Swiss authorities opening criminal proceedings against Sepp Blatter.

“Here you’ve got an organisation that’s rotten from the top down and it’s rotten in so many respects that it just goes all the way through, not just Fifa, but into the federations too.

“So it’s no surprise that anyone in it, looks at it and says ‘I want to have my share as well.’

“It just staggers me how much money gets wasted by these arseclowns and the sense of entitlement they have with a complete lack of objectivity and understanding of what they’re there for which is to grow the global game.”

Fuller says there are any number of examples of decisions being made that are not for the good of football and points to the outgoing head of the Fifa Sepp Blatter as a prime example.

“Last Friday we revealed the contract between Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner from 2005 where Blatter facilitated the sale of the broadcast rights for the 2010-2014 World Cups for $600,000 which Warner then sold on for $20 million.

“It just keeps going on and on and on while the truth is that Fifa is incapable of reforming itself and it needs to be taken out of its hands. We have this farcical process at the moment where they’re re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic and trying to show that they’re doing something when they’re really not.”

Morocco Soccer Club World Cup Fuller believes real change is possible, not just the shuffling of positions. Source: Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images

And the consequence of not enacting real change? A brand new world football governing body.

“We’ve proposed a proper reform process but we’re in the realms of the turkeys needing to vote for Christmas. To do what we want to do, we need to convince 105 federations to vote for it. That comes by explaining through a carrot and stick approach.

“The stick has got to be that the next step will be the nuclear option where you just disband it completely. The thing is, if we don’t get real reform now, we’re going to lose a once in a multi-generational opportunity.

“That’s important to stress, this is not just a once in a lifetime opportunity, it is a once in multiple lifetimes opportunity and if it doesn’t happen then I’m confident we’ll end up with the dissolution of Fifa.

“Three of the four major US sponsors have already endorsed our plan. We’ve got Visa, Coke and McDonalds on board as having endorsed our plan for an independent reform commission. It’s very difficult to tell where some of the other big international sponsors stand because they’ve been so quiet.”

FIFA Valcke Jerome Valcke was suspended as Secretary General of Fifa last week. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Fuller hopes it doesn’t come down to salting the earth and believes he and his fellow reformers can convince the national federations it is in their interest to get on board.

“This is where we need a unified, cohesive plan to engage with everybody to explain why independent reform needs to be done. Bluntly, it comes down to three things.

“One: Independent reform would be forward looking. We would not be suggesting that we start diving into the past and saying to, for example, Botswana, ‘you’ve got to show us where you spent your money last year and what you did with your grants.’ The Swiss Federal Prosecutors are already doing that. We need to say to federations we’re not going to rip the scabs off old wounds, instead we’ll look to the future.

“Number two, we need enshrine the notion of equal distribution of funds so we will not allow some confederations, say like Uefa, to claim they’re more important than others and put more money in so should get more out. That’s not for the good of the game.

“The kicker is that we will insist on transparency of where that money goes and ensure there is accountability. For example, we’ll make sure there isn’t the implementation of a $1 millon programme that’s really only a $250,000 programme with the rest going to the federation’s president’s brother-in-law.

“Thirdly, there will be more money for everyone. We will end the sweetheart deals, we’ll end the use of the private jets by individuals within Fifa and all the other extravagant expenditure like ‘United Passions’, $20 million blown on a fucking ego-trip.

“So there’s a lot for the federations to gain from this. Will they take it up or not? That’s a different story.”

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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