The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has judicially confirmed that Musa Hassan Bility, the President of the Liberia Football Association does not have the required integrity to lead world football.
The Election Committee of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) rejected Mr. Bility’s bid to head the organization on grounds that he failed a required integrity check.
Bility rejected the decision and filed a complain with CAS to overturn his exclusion. But ruling on the matter, CAS squashed Bility’s plead and sustained the Election Committee’s decision and indicated that the reason for trashing the LFA chief’s appeal will be released earlier this year.
Bility was one of the seven candidates for the FIFA presidency but has been excluded from the election after failing integrity checks.
FIFA’s electoral committee announced that the LFA Chief has not passed the check and is not eligible to stand, but is not making the reasons for his exclusion public.
FIFA said in a statement: “The integrity check included a review of corporate records, litigation cases, bankruptcy proceedings, potential regulatory actions taken against the candidate and a review of media reports concerning potential red flags (fraudulent behaviour, match manipulation, human rights violations, etc.).
“Each candidate was then asked to comment on the content of the detailed report produced.
“The ad-hoc electoral committee did not admit the candidature of Musa Hassan Bility, in view of the content of the integrity check report relating to him. For reasons of protection of personality rights, the committee – while it has explained its considerations in detail to Musa Hassan Bility – will not comment publicly on the specifics of its decision.”
The Liberian government, Which fully endorsed Bility’s FIFA presidential bid has since expressed “shock” over the latest development. Bility generated huge support in government’s circle with its integrity chief – ex interim President Dr. Amos Sawyer, head of the Governance Commission leading the campaign.
“We barked Mr. Bility like any responsible government will do when one of its citizens aspires for a global position. Now we are shock with the latest development. Notwithstanding, in due course we will response appropriately when all the facts are obtained”, Deputy Information Minister Isaac Jackson said.
Bility has been a party to financial scandals in the country. He had faced charges ranging from tax evasion to economic sabotage but rejected all with plead of innocence.
Renowned sports journalist Danesius Marteh who has consistently documented Bility’s corporate deeds and football administration told The New Democrat he was not surprised at the FIFA integrity committee’s decision.
Bility’s failing of the integrity checks is an embarrassment to the country and shame to the government that supported him. He has been involved in tax evasion. The government indicted him on several occasions but the same government ignored the integrity issues and risked the country’s reputation globally by its uncalculated decision.
‘Black Hole’ Football millions unaccounted for Here
Global Corruption watchdog Transparency international issued report on corruption and secrecy in football associations across the world with the Liberia Football Association amongst more than 200 football organizations that cannot say what it has done with millions from FIFA.
The report claimed between 2011 and 2014 every foot ball association received more than US$2milliomn from the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) – the governing body for the game but there has been no accountability on specific programs and projects implemented with respect to football development.
Liberia is ranked amongst the least developed football countries and after more than 12 years since the end of civil war in 2003 there has been no tangible investment targeting football development. Since 2002 Liberia has not qualified for the biannual continental football competition – the African Cup of Nation.
This month, the country was disgracefully kicked out of the 2018 World Cup qualifying rounds to the delight of the Ivory Coast on a 4-0 aggregate.
THE FINANCIAL AND GOVERNANCE BLACK HOLE
Between 2011 and 2014 FIFA distributed a minimum of US$2.05 million to each of its 209 member football associations (FAs). This included a one-off payment in 2014 of US$1.05 million following the success of the World Cup. During that same period FIFA also gave US$102 million to the six regional football Confederations.
FIFA says the money is for football development. But other than a partial accounting on the FIFA web site, there is no clear way to track what the FAs did with all that money.
81 per cent of FAs have no financial records publicly available • 21 per cent of FAs have no websites • 85 per cent of FAs publish no activity accounts of what they do
Transparency International looked for what information is publicly available on the websites of the activities and expenditures of the 209 FAs and six regional Confederations. We wanted to find out how transparent they are about the money they receive from FIFA and their other revenues.
Many of the FAs and the confederations have income from sponsors, broadcasting licenses, ticket sales, international matches and other sources in addition to the funds for FIFA. While they prominently display the logos of their sponsors on their homepages, little to no information is provided on the value of these deals and activities.
We also sent emails to all 209 FAs asking them for links to the information because many websites are hard to navigate and the information hard to find1.
Only fourteen out of FIFA’s 209 football associations – Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden – publish the minimum amount of information necessary to let people know what they do, how they spend their money and what values they believe in.
While FIFA publishes on its website some details of how its members spend the development funds it gives them, it demands no public accountability from the organisations themselves. It was only in 2014 that FIFA asked for written, audited accounts for its own use. Some of these can be found on the FIFA website. According to FIFA, not all member associations complied by the March 2015 deadline and any further financial assistance payments will not be paid until the report is made available
With the corruption crisis still engulfing FIFA, Transparency International conducted research into the governance structures at FIFA’s member associations to see how much information is publicly available about how they operate.
Transparency International looked at Football Association (FA) websites to find information on financial accounts, governing statutes, codes of conduct and annual activity reports.
21 per cent of FAs have no websites
85 per cent of FAs publish no activity accounts of what they do
Only 14 out of FIFA’s 209 football associations – Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden – publish the minimum amount of information necessary to let people know what they do, how they spend their money and what values they believe in.
“The risk of corruption at too many football associations around the world is high. This problem is made worse by the lack of information such as audited financial statements by many associations,” said Cobus de Swardt. “FIFA needs to enforce better governance on its members as well as on itself. The good that football can do is tarnished when corruption is allowed to flourish.
“Any incoming president of FIFA must make it a priority to create more accountable governance throughout the organisations from the bottom, as well as from the top,” said de Swardt.
The six regional confederations, which are not members of FIFA, but organise regional football activities like Euro 2016 and the Copa America can also improve. Only two publish financial accounts – UEFA and the African Confederation.
Transparency International is making a series of recommendations to improve how football is governed. These include:
FIFA should mandate all its members make publicly available the following information as a pre-requisite for membership and financial assistance: audited financial accounts, an annual activities report, code of conduct and organisational statutes.
The FIFA website should make easily accessible all charters and annual activity and financial reports of associations on its main website.
The six regional football Confederations should commit to publishing all relevant operational information on their websites, including financial accounts and codes of conduct.
The goal of the research is to highlight the need for better football governance. FIFA has the power to insist its member associations are more accountable. In 2014, for the first time it required its members to submit audited financial reports as a prerequisite for future funding. These audited reports should be made public.