The FIFA Flop: Why Anti-Bribery Training is More Important Than Just Knowing How To Play The Game


Brazil passed their new anti-bribery law back in January. Only a couple of months before the 2014 World Cup was set to start, Brazil, the host country of the famous “football” world championship, offered guidance about their new anti-bribery law, which would give multinational companies clearer answers regarding what elements their corporate compliance training programs needed to include.

And now, FIFA, football’s governing body, is facing allegations of bribery and corruption.

FIFA is under some serious scrutiny about their involvement in a series of bribery allegations and corruption involving millions of dollars. Maybe FIFA should have listened to Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, after she passed the law. It may not seem like news to those that have been following the FIFA World Cup for years, but in the past decade, FIFA has been accused of numerous accounts of bribery, which have resulted in nationwide media attention, and even the resignation of some notable players. Perhaps Brazil passed the anti-bribery statute knowing the country was about to host the World Cup, which would inevitably draw attention to FIFA’s past behavior.

According to a recent blog, one of the allegations is that FIFA officials accepted millions of dollars to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, which has been denied by many Qatar officials. Apparently the former Vice-President of FIFA was bribed with $1.2 million dollars by a Qatar official award the host role to Qatar.

Multi-National Anti-Bribery Reform

Many companies around the world have hired specialized consultants to assist them with anti corruption compliance programs, given the severity of penalties for violating the FCPA, the UK Bribery Act and some of the other more stringent anti-corruption statutes. Implementing new, interactive anti bribery training, as well as updated anti-bribery policies are two key components to a solid anti corruption program.

With companies under more scrutiny and with the legal environment constantly changing, multi-national companies are starting to implement new bribery policies. For example, the City of London passed a tough bribery law to help firms comply with anti-bribery legislation. Back in September 2013, government officials and the London police started offering anti-bribery training programs to curb the insane number of bribery cases affecting UK businesses. According to an international law firm, Ince & Co, since the law was implemented back in 2011, the UK has seen no corporate prosecutions and only minor prosecutions of individuals in low-level cases.

So why isn’t FIFA hopping on the anti-bribery training band wagon? The old saying goes that Rome was not built in a day, and neither are FIFA’s governance reforms. However, the organization is taking small steps in order to reform their governance committee and bribery policies.

FIFA Needs an Anti-Bribery Training Program

As you can see, without an effective compliance training program in place, consequences can be pretty devastating. FIFA continues to damage their reputation in the mass media while being under serious federal investigation. However, FIFA has been making painstakingly slow changes to their governance program. They recently formed a new committee that will a set of changes to FIFA’s internal structure, policies and procedures, which will include awareness of how to stop bribery and how to report it if it occurs. Two well known Canadian anti-corruption experts were appointed to the panel as part of the reform.

The organization also hired an independent investigator to look into allegations of bribery, and appointed a German judge as chairman of their Ethics committee. Furthermore, FIFA announces to change their culture by first appointing a different host for the World Cup. However, many argue that the only way the FIFA organization will change is if the sponsors of the World Cup revoke their millions of dollars in sponsorship. By removing the sponsorship compensation, the incentive for bribery is also hindered.

So while you are taking bets on your favorite team or maybe just enjoying the players themselves, there is a concrete message to take away from FIFA’s mishaps. It draws attention to how necessary anti-bribery training is for any company or organization. Compliance training is such a HUGE asset and it is important for employees as well as managers to be educated on the different laws and policies. Being well informed is the first step in bribery defense. An effective corporate compliance training program helps individuals achieve a better understanding of corruption and also how to avoid it. Check out our Anti Bribery Checklist and Anti Bribery Solution.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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