Last week, the former chairman of England’s Football Association, Lord Triesman, accused Nicolas Leoz, Jack Warner and two other Fifa executives of seeking ‘bribes‘ in return for backing England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup finals.
Triesman claims Leoz (pictured), president of the South American Football Confederation, requested a knighthood, while Warner, president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, asked for cash to buy TV rights and build an education centre.
Although both officials deny the allegations, the scandal has severely damaged Fifa’s reputation and suggests corruption at the very heart of football’s largest governing body.
As part of his re-election campaign, Fifa president Sepp Blatter recently promised to form a ‘council of the wise’, which aims to restore the organisation’s standing on corporate governance issues.
The move is in large part a response to calls – which have become increasingly vocal and frequent over the past decade – for companies to show greater corporate social responsibility (CSR) and transparency.
The reaction to the allegations of bribery in Fifa, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and the nuclear radiation leaks in Japan earlier this year suggest the public are starting to make the link between companies’ behaviour and their profit margins.
The public understands good business is not just about making money; it’s also about integrity. You can have a good balance sheet, but is that a fair representation of your behaviour?
In Britain, corporate governance is based around the UK Corporate Governance Code, which is largely for the protection of shareholders.
However, until international and UK-based organisations adopt a more universal approach, which looks at protecting other stakeholders, calls for greater CSR and transparency will continue.
This holistic approach to business is enshrined in the Nolan Principles, the code of ethics for those serving in public office.
CSR is about the whole environment, not just the people who work and live there. Embodying a perspective that considers all stakeholders increases corporate responsibility, both socially and across the board.