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Friday, June 05, 2015

No Holds Barred: Declan Hill on the FIFA Scandal and the Need for a World Anti-Corruption Agency for Sport 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with investigative journalist, academic, and expert on match-fixing in international football, Declan Hill.

We have just seen the arrests on corruption charges of numerous top officials of FIFA, the international governing of football, the world's most popular sport, which is known as soccer in North America and elsewhere. More arrests and indictments are expected, all of which has led to the resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, just four days after having been re-elected for a fifth term.

The ongoing public exposures of FIFA's wrongdoing and the subsequent arrests have raised the questions of where else in sport is corruption so rampant, and what needs to be done to fight it.

To discuss all this, we spoke with Declan Hill by phone Thursday.

"We definitely need an international anti-corruption agency for sport," he stated.

A number of combat sports athletes in recent years have said they have been approached to fix fights and matches "for large sums of money" but have turned these attempted bribes down, he said.

"But they've almost inevitably never gone forward, because they don't trust the authorities in their own sport, not to either be behind it, or who would in some ways try to punish them for blowing the whistle," he noted.

"We need an agency where good, honest fighters can go and report what's happened, where an honest administrator working for a sports organization can go and blow the whistle on something. And also an agency that can set the standard, set the standards of transparency, say, 'This is what a good sports organization should do. Here are the basic protocols, just the basic business practices, here's the basic guidelines of what a true sporting organization should do.'

"It's not all that difficult. There have been a lot of studies on it. There have been a lot of reports and a lot of stuff. But this is what needs to happen."

We discussed more on the "surreal" story of FIFA's widespread corruption scandal and the arrests last week; the crucial role of freelance and independent journalists like Andrew Jennings and Jens Weinreich in relentlessly exposing FIFA's corruption, and the failure of the mainstream media in this regard; the "desperate" need for an international anti-corruption agency for sport; the crisis in SportAccord and the pressure from the IOC which led to the resignation of SportAccord president Marius Vizer, also shortly after being unanimously re-elected; the crisis in world sport, which is reaching a boiling point where open rebellions are taking place against sporting institutions which were once viewed as untouchable and revered; and much, much more.

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