Half of the world’s top 10 football associations do not publish any financial accounts, illustrating the scale of the challenge to bring transparency to world football.
Belgium, Germany and Argentina, the world’s top three ranked teams, have entirely opaque finances, according to new research from Transparency International, which found that 81 per cent of the 209 countries that receive funding from Fifa do not publish any accounts.
Other countries who do not publish their finances include Chile, Colombia and France, the world’s fifth, seventh, and 24th ranked teams.
“Each year, Fifa hands out millions of dollars to football associations. We believe fans have a right to know how the money FAs generate through their interest in football is spent,” said Transparency International.
It added that it had set the bar for its research “at a very low level”, examining if football associations had public accounts, a public report of its activities, an organisational statute and a code of conduct. It found that only 14 countries had all four, including Canada, England and Japan.
Between 2011 and 2014, Fifa gave each of its 209 members a minimum of $2.05m in funding, including a $1.05m bonus after the Brazil World Cup. It also gave the six continental football federations a total of $102m, according to its last accounts.
“Fifa says the money is for developing football. But 81 per cent of football associations have no financial records publicly available. 21 per cent have no websites. 85 per cent publish no activity accounts of what they do,” said Transparency International. Fifa, in turn, only asked football associations to give them an account of how they spent the money in 2014.
It called for football associations to be more transparent and accountable. “That means publishing relevant and basic information about their activities and allowing independent verification of that information.”
In its last annual report, for the year ending July 2014, the FA made £332m in revenue and declared a pre-tax profit of £9.8m. It did not disclose what grants it had received from Fifa in its accounts.
Michael Hershman, the co-founder of Transparency International, has already said he has little confidence in the reform process under way at Fifa.
“Frankly, it is a waste of time and money,” he said at a conference in New York organised by the Qatar-funded International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS).
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