What IAAF can teach FIFA

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Coming after a successful World Championships at Daegu – South Korea, the world athletics body IAAF, can offer a lesson or two to the football world’s governing body. Though IAAF is not as big as the monolith that FIFA is, these two bodies run their respective independent disciplines overseeing what the national associations undertake among others. While one is more or less an individual sport, the other is a team sport with slightly more challenges in its running and management.

What can FIFA learn:
– Any sport federation/association is larger than a single individual – while FIFA has focused much of its day-to-day running to one individual or set of people, this has meant the focus has almost become more about the individual than the sport. It is true that the President ( oh how they love these titles) becomes the global ambassador of the sport but his word should not be law and the secrecy with which some his day-to-day management practices are only add more questions than there are answers.
In the IAAF, they have managed to demystify the organisation and no single individual is all-towering, all-powerful to overshadow it.

– Commercialise but don’t be greedy – the level at which each of the sport operates have been succesful largely due to the adoption of commercial aspects in the 1970s (for FIFA) and 1980s (for IAAF). These have seen the organisations stage some of the most successful events in recent across the world to varied audiences all the while meant to appeal to a wider global audience. But this commercialisation should NOT be on over-kill. Sample this, over the last 2 World Cups, FIFA has made profits much to the chagrin of the host nations who are left with infrastructure that they either don’t need or use and much-maligned governments who go all out to deliver the goods but neglect their citizenry. IAAF on the other hand has seen most of its events held with modest budgets and less of a strain to most of the host nations. This is from the World Cross-Country to the World Athletics Championships.

– Do not micro-manage national federations , and they should be open to dissolution or otherwise – FIFA’s national bodies across the world run like semi-autonomous bodies with little interference from the national governments of the day. This maybe a boon or a bad idea from whichever side you want to view it. Classic case, look at Kenya. We have a vibrant football culture but the game is almost dead at national level. Compare that with their athletics counterparts…most of this is repeated in other developing economies.

– Where there is smoke , there is fire – corruption claims have almost always riddled sport and both disciplines are no exception. But while FIFA dithers and seeks to bury their dirt under the carpet, IAAF has dealt with such claims rather swiftly. Once a claim is made of a corrupt official, they are asked to step aside with little or no fuss. Look at the ruckus that accompanied the departure of football officials in the names of Jack Warner and Mohammed bin Hamamm for FIFA? And you can be sure this is not the last you are hearing of either…

With these few tid-bits, sports associations should know that sport is universal and while commercial interests have pervaded most sporting disciplines, let’s not forget to enjoy running the sport for the greater good of those who participate and earn from it. The world should be entertained and wowed by sport NOT turned off and wondering what might have happened.

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