On the need for transparency

In the recent years there has been a lot of negativity towards supranational sport organisations. One of the most famous ones, and my personal favourite, is John Oliver’s critique of FIFA (link below).

When a few days ago some friends mentioned that the International Olympic Committee has also come under scrutiny for corruption and lack of transparency, I decided to find out more about the state of these organisations’ finances.

What I found on their websites is disappointing.

FIFA’s financial statement starts with:

“There are several different streams of income for world football’s governing body as it seeks resources to touch the world, develop the game and build a better future.”

Wow. ‘Touch the world’? Really?

The website then provides a summary of some basic facts and figures, but the newest data is from 2010! Moreover, there are no links to any sort of budget report. The attempt to go into more depth doesn’t end well:

“FIFA also made USD 33 million from Quality Concept, with manufacturers paying the sport’s governing body for FIFA-approved and FIFA-inspected quality marks on outdoor, futsal and beach soccer balls.” One could say that FIFA has balls for charging $33 million for balls inspection.

The IOC website provides two pie charts – one on revenue distribution and one on the source of marketing revenue. On the website there is no mention of absolute values or amounts.

I was hopeful when I saw the link to the “IOC Financial Summary Factsheet” from 2014, but I was underwhelmed when I saw the actual document.

First of all, the margins are all wrong – the one on the left is significantly larger than the one on the right. Second of all, the spacing between lines is simply too small. Third of all, there is massive spacing between the words in the second paragraph. For an organisation that spends 10% of their revenue (a whooping $500 million dollars) on “operational costs”, they could at least put together a decent-looking financial factsheet.

Yet, the bigger problem is that the factsheet is just not informative. I struggled to find information about what the “operational costs” are, not to mention what exactly constitutes the “distribution and Olympic Games cost” that amounts to the remaining 90% of their revenue.

Neither FIFA nor the IOC post their yearly revenues, instead one has to be satisfied with figures per four-year (FIFA) and three-year (IOC) cycles.

Now, this is not to say that I suspect FIFA or the IOC of doing fishy business.

Yet the lack of information about official figures makes one question what happens unofficially even more. As supra-national bodies they rely on their credibility and people’s love for what they have to offer. As this credibility is gradually declining, a greater degree of transparency and openness about their internal affairs is just what they need.




On the need for transparency

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