Football has entered a dead-end path regarding corruption and lack of transparency. The latest #FIFAGate and CONMEBOL scandals led to the establishment of [Fútbol Transparente], a joint project led by Foro Por Colombia, Transparency International (Colombian Chapter) and FanVox, aimed at strengthening Colombian football’s institutional framework and promoting supporter involvement.
On 12 November 2015, Luis Bedoya, the former Colombian FA and CONMEBOL Vice President, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy. Right after his resignation, he was banned for life by FIFA in May 2016, yet everything remained the same within the Governing Bodies of Colombian Football. In addition, bad practices have been perpetuated within clubs that have blocked a greater development of the Colombian League..
Given this particular situation happening at both local and international levels (i.e the FIFA Gate scandals), three independent organisations decided to lead a joint initiative to bring more transparency to Colombian Football: [Fútbol Transparente]. The project kicked off in January 2016 and its raison d’etre was to promote to the establishment of a more transparent football, whereby all stakeholders involved would contribute to its sustainable development. A collective effort combining the expertise in transparency, citizen participation and technology use in supporter empowerment provided by the promoting organisations.
A low score on Transparency in Colombian Football
In order to generate a trusted impact and awareness amongst the media and relevant stakeholders, the project decided to run a national survey on the perception of transparency in Colombian football. Using FanVox’s virtual platform, the survey provided the following characterization:
- 971 respondents from 94 municipalities.
- 78% were men and 22% women.
- 6 out of 10 respondents mentioned that football plays a relevant role in their lives; 3 out of 10 said that its importance is average and 1 out of 10 do not care about football.
- 61% of the respondents were under 35 years
Colombian Football Transparency Diagnosis
The general perception of respondents was that the transparency of the Colombian Governing Bodies is low or medium, with an aggregated score of 2/5 for the three Institutions.
Moreover, the respondents argued that the top three corruption issues surrounding Colombian Football were: 1) High Discretion of Directors; 2) Lack of Institutional Accountability ; 3) Limited Supporter Participation.
Improving Transparency in Colombian Football
The respondents suggested a handful of measures to mitigate the corruption risks, that were grouped in three different categories:
- More transparency by the Football Directors
- Better Access to Information
- Promotion of Supporters’ Trusts
Some of these measures heavily rely on the political will of Directors to be accomplished; few others are already incorporated in the Colombian Football legal and institutional framework; and some others are to be created from scratch.
Key Findings and Next Steps
Three main conclusions can be extracted from the study:
- Colombian Football is exposed to corruption risks derived from the international context and the local transparency deficit.
- The lack of transparency is linked to a) High Discretion; b) Monopoly in Decision-Making; and 3) Low levels of Accountability.
- There is no trust in the Governing Bodies, yet it is overshadowed by success on the pitch by the National Team and professional Clubs.
[Fútbol Transparente] Initiative
The Study’s results were presented to the public media at the Fútbol Transparente Forum, which took place on 30 August 2016 in Bogotá. With more than 100 participants and 800 views on live streaming, the event provided an insightful explanation of the project, the survey’s key findings and organised a discussion panel with representatives from diverse stakeholders: the Colombian FA’s President, Sponsors, Government, Journalists, Agents and Players.
Beyond the very interesting discussion, a high point was achieved when each one of the panel participants agreed to open an opportunity door to reflect on how to collectively improve Colombian Football. As a result of that, the [Fútbol Transparente] Initiative will focus its efforts on improving the transparency in football by articulating the Directors’ accountability and the increased participation of supporters in decision-making.
We will work hard in an ambitious long-term project that will positively and structurally change Colombian Football. Help us achieve it!