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World Football (Governance)

Volume 600: debated on Thursday 22 October 2015

The Government take very seriously the issue of good governance in sport, at both national and international level. Combating corruption in sport requires a co-ordinated and international approach. The Government are therefore discussing the issue of good governance with our colleagues in Europe, the Commonwealth and the wider international community to explore what more we can achieve by working together. The UK is due to host a round-table discussion on tackling corruption in sport at next week’s Open Government Partnership global summit in Mexico.

Before it even knew who the candidates would be, the Football Association came out in support of Michel Platini as the next president of FIFA. He is now under investigation, like Sepp Blatter, for corruption. What conversations has my right hon. Friend had with the FA about its support for Michel Platini?

I have regular discussions with the FA and, unsurprisingly, the subject of the presidency of FIFA comes up frequently. Although the decision on which candidate to support is ultimately a matter for the FA, the Government have made it clear that we expect to see a new FIFA, with a new president who can drive reform and not one tainted by the problems of the past.

The Secretary of State says that the issue of FIFA governance has come up regularly in his conversations. Is it not masking the issue in Qatar, where workers continue to die? In the study up to 2013, more than 1,300 people were reported to have died. What representations have the Government made on the humanitarian crisis in that country resulting from the preparations for the World cup in Qatar in 2022?

I am aware of reports of concerns about the workers who are preparing for the World cup in 2022 in Qatar, but I understand that Qatar has put in place measures to ensure that their welfare is protected. We will no doubt continue to monitor that matter carefully and I will certainly look at any further concerns that have been expressed.

Many people believe that FIFA will be incapable of reforming itself and that an independent reform commission should be established. Would the Secretary of State welcome the establishment of such a commission, and would the Government be prepared to offer any assistance that that commission needed?

I share my hon. Friend’s view that those currently involved in FIFA are probably least equipped to advise on how it should be reformed, and there may well be a case for the kind of independent body that my hon. Friend advocates. We would be happy to discuss that further, should FIFA ask us to do so.