Quick Question: What Advice For FIFA?
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Quick Question: What Advice For FIFA?

In the first of a series of questions to industry leaders, we ask what should world football body FIFA do as it faces charges of corruption?

Paul Holmes

Ruud Bijl (pictured), founder and CEO, Bijl Partners (Netherlands): “Normally you would advise to be open, be transparent and focus on football as soon as election is over. I don’t think that is possible anymore. My advice would have been to postpone elections and make absolutely clear that the FIFA wants to be a clean, transparent and open organization and therefore will start a thorough investigation done by externals. Mr Blatter should stay aside completely during this process or even better should be so wise to leave office. But with Mr. Blatter as president this is not going to happen I’m afraid. So with this man in the lead FIFA is on her way to the next crisis.”

Hans Geelmuyden, chief executive, Geelmuyden Kiese (Norway): “The contrast between the way Barcelona played to beat Manchester United on Saturday and the way Sepp Blatter is playing to be reelected as president of FIFA is dramatic. FIFA has to go through the same revolution as IOC did ten years ago. FIFA needs a new management and ethical guidelines guarded by an independent body. Barcelona plays beautifully and fair. FIFA plays foul.”

Chris Norton, managing director, Blue Rubicon (UK): “They should have ensured there was a competition for the presidency as a one horse race does no one any favours, something to which Gordon Brown can testify. Failing that, they now need to embrace complete transparency and open up the process for big decisions like world cup locations. Allowing all FIFA members to vote on the world cup shortlist and the final winner would be a good first move, as well as establishing a register of members’ financial interests and hospitality that is independently inspected. If I was Sepp Blatter I’d try and look magnanimous by giving a top role to the English FA in spite of their attempt to delay the election.”

Paul Seaman, principal, West - PR Seaman (Switzerland): “Mr Blatter, you can have a great legacy, if you want it. Your aim has to be to stop fans booing you, by either getting them to cheer or ignore you. Above all, don't panic. The world is obsessed with football, not with its politics. Stress your enthusiasm for improvements in FIFA's governance. Get a youngish wise man (overlooked by your sunset heavyweights) to produce a roadmap for the future. Subtly encourage a debate about football's wider governance issues, and how they impact on FIFA's ability to be, ahem, as good as it might be. Insist that FIFA itself will be tougher on anything done in its name. Continue to resist rule-by-the-media. Continue to stick up for global football's key stakeholders in national associations and clubs. Continue to remind the world that football is a game that (outside of the elite) mostly does not make money, but consumes it. Tell people that without its patrons, which come in many varieties, much of the game would cease to exist.” 
 

Andy Sutherden, head of sports, Hill & Knowlton (UK): "With an Advisory Board already consisting of Henry Kissinger and Placido Domingo, what possible wisdom could us PR mortals add?! Another suggested name to the Advisory Board maybe? Or even better, how about Blatter gets Simon Cowell to appoint the next ‘Panel’ member? That seems to be popular at the moment! Personally, I would rather see FIFA do two things: charm the shin pads off one of its most important ‘publics’ – the sponsors. FIFA earned an estimated $1.6bn from the likes of Coca Cola, VISA, Castrol, adidas and Emirates between 2006-2010. Money is FIFA’s oxygen and unloved sponsors can cut that supply if they are not convinced quickly that their association with the ‘beautiful game’ remains beautiful. Secondly, hatch a media strategy that lifts the lid on stories that have hitherto been deemed worthy rather than news worthy:  FIFA’s GOAL programme building facilities worldwide: growing the game across ages, sexes, formats and geographies; boiling tournament organisation down to a fine art and enhancing fan experiences along the way. FIFA needs to move the agenda on and its plentiful supply of CSR proof points is a compelling route."

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