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Transcript of interview with Daniel Harford: SEN Sports Radio: 2 June 2011: FIFA

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SENATOR THE HON SENATOR ARBIB Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development Minister for Sport Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness



PRESENTER: We spoke with Craig Foster earlier in the show about the reforms required at FIFA and the change needed, and he was pretty emphatic and that needed to happen. So we thought we’d check in with Senator Mark Arbib the Federal Sports Minister, to see what the

Government can do or what world governments can do to assist in this happening and he’s good enough to join us on the line. Senator, good afternoon.

MINISTER ARBIB: Good afternoon Daniel.

PRESENTER: You’ve called for an IOC style reform, I was reading on Fox sports website not long ago. How do we go about doing this and holding Sepp Blatter to account for what he said he would do?

MINISTER ARBIB: Well that’s exactly it, we’ve got to hold him to account. Last night he said that he would reform the organisation. He talked about going up to 208 votes in the bidding ballot, but he’s also talked about strengthening the Ethics Committee, separating the investigation and the decision making powers. I think they’re good things and a good start. But I mean it’s easy to say, it’s hard to do. And we need to ensure that all football federations are taking a stand to ensure that he is held to account on it. In the case of the IOC following the Salt Lake City Olympics and all the corruption that was involved and the allegations, the IOC brought in Dick Pound from outside to reform the organisation. It’s pretty important that

FIFA look outside the organisation for people to come in and assist them in making the reforms, reform isn’t easy and I understand and the last couple of hours they’re talking about Henry Kissinger, as somebody who could be involved in that process, but certainly I hope that they would look outside the organisation for reformers to do that job.

PRESENTER: Well if they don’t look outside the organisation, it just smells of an inside job again doesn’t it?

MINISTER ARBIB: I think a lot of people would not be confident that FIFA could make those changes without external pressure coming from Governments, coming from the football federations themselves and certainly there is a lot of expertise in terms of sport management, sports governance and FIFA needs to make best use of that and they should be talking to the IOC about the changes they made. That was tough difficult decisions for the IOC to reform after Salt Lake City but it has worked and FIFA really need to use that expertise.

PRESENTER: On the surface of what President Blatter said last night, do you think he actually means it, or do you think it was just a deflection to take a bit of the heat off the controversy going on at the moment at FIFA?

MINISTER ARBIB: I think he’s got no choice. He really has no choice but to start a reform process. But it’s where the reforms end up and the result that is going to really determine whether they’re real or not. And again the football federations themselves have the bigger

stake in this because it’s the confidence in the game that is now waning.

PRESENTER: That’s right.

MINISTER ARBIB: When people, when football lovers across the globe start doubting the international federation and are disillusioned with that federation well that leads to disillusionment with the game domestically as well. So my advice to the football federations globally is they’ve got a big stake in this reform taking place and they need to raise their voices. It was good to see, as Craig Foster said earlier, some of the Scandinavian countries and the German Federation talking about investigations and reform. Everyone, truly, needs to come out now, all federations, and say it’s time for reform and we’re going to hold you to account.

PRESENTER: So as part of your role as the Federal Sports Minister do you get on the phone or the e-mails to other Sports Ministers around the globe and really campaign to make sure it’s a really concerted effort from all governments to put a bit of pressure on FIFA to make sure this actually does unfold.

MINISTER ARBIB: Well we’ve been one of the few governments that actually have taken a stand on it. The British Minister Hugh Robertson started the ball rolling and went out very early and I’ve been right behind him on this. We fully support reform. We fully support governments having a say and a roll in it. It was quite interesting listening to some of the comments last night by FIFA delegates attacking governments and saying governments should stay out of FIFA. I mean, my message to them is - yes FIFA is a private organisation, we accept that. But at the same time as that, FIFA, as part of their bidding requirements, require Governments to provide Government Guarantees and provide huge sums of money in terms of the bidding process themselves and therefore government should have a say in the transparency and integrity of the organisation. And we all want an ethical FIFA, we all want a level playing field so that when we are bidding for a World Cup or a Youth World Cup or a Women’s World Cup that we know we are on a level playing field.

PRESENTER: I think that is why Australians are particularly emotionally involved in this issue because we’ve spent 45 million bucks on a World Cup bid that from what we read in the last couple of weeks, last couple of months was doomed to fail from the start.

MINISTER ARBIB: It’s a bit of a worry, and the President Sepp Blatter has admitted there was collusion between a number of the bids which was disappointing and certainly there has been a huge number of allegations and they need to be investigated. There is no doubt about it. We want to see all those allegations investigated properly and that needs to take place before anyone has any confidence in the bidding process itself. I know a lot of Australians are disappointed, I’m extremely disappointed. But more important than our bid, much more important than our bid, is that FIFA gets real reform and they start it now. And we as a Government and certainly me as the Sports Minster and our Federation, we need to ensure that they are held to account for that.

PRESENTER: Well as your Australian sporting fans, who look up to you for guidance, we say to you go get ‘em!

MINISTER ARBIB: Thanks very much.

PRESENTER: You are given the all clear to go get ‘em! Senator Mark Arbib Federal Sports Minister, thanks for your time.

MINISTER ARBIB: (Laughs) Thank you Daniel, have a great day.