3 May 2018 – Football is widely recognised as the most popular sport on earth. However, is the game being taken for granted, being mismanaged and veering in the wrong direction when it comes to sound governance?

A fair assumption would be that the overall governance of the sport could most definitely be improved at all levels across the globe.

Pertinent questions are: what exactly constitutes sound governance in the sport, how can this be stopped and why is this so vital to the overall survival of the game?

What is sound governance?

Qualifications, experience and competency aside, proper running of the game at all levels comes down to morals and ethics. These should be the backbone of not only footballing bodies but sport in general.

Solid leadership of the game equates to ensuring professionalism, the highest of standards, fairness, transparency, honesty, personal responsibility, rule of law, being consensus oriented, facilitating internal democracy, inclusive participation, compliance, efficiency, accountability and integrity.

With money always proving to be the root of all evil, financial activities should preferably be underpinned by the above principles, as this is one aspect that seems to constantly be the main cause of poor governance in the sport.

The various policies put in place by administrators, organisations, bodies and associations need to cater for the above variables and take them into consideration for the betterment of the game.

How can it be halted?

Football requires radical reformed governance and an inherent overall change that is capable of upholding core values, thus edging further away from a lawless culture.

Financial fair-play is a key element here. Such a policy though, requires correct implementation. Proper systems, procedures, regulations and binding measures are needed when it comes to financial control as well as the need for independent, supervisory bodies as well as auditors and strict vetting processes.

Fair elections are another important aspect as is the appointment of independent board members as well as transparent sponsorship deals, compensation, benefits and bonuses for all concerned.

Collaborations among the various footballing organisations, bodies, associations, criminal authorities, working groups and committees are also vital as is the uniform implementation and enforcement of various punishments and penalties for specific transgressions.

The need for sound governance   

It boils down to the basic survival of the sport and is as simple as that. Without proper governance the game will be overtaken by other sports codes and slowly rot away.

Also, the educational and social value of the sport should always be the prime, motivating factor when it comes to governing.

Good governance means football being used as a vehicle to enhance necessary values in society (with a keen focus on youth), promote gender equality, fair-play and human values/rights while at the same time discouraging hate speech, violent conduct, fraud and any illicit activities.

Football belongs to the people and all those adoring fans that love and worship the beautiful game.

Good governance means that the sport is in good hands and can continue to run seamlessly for generations to come by improving and growing from strength-to-strength.

Locally, our very own South African Football Association (SAFA) can be commended for their efforts in ensuring sound governance. Hard work has been done with regard to laws, statutes, policies, tenders, rules and regulations while annual reports and audited financial statements are made readily available for public viewing.

By: Dhirshan Gobind