9 August 2018

Liberia: FIFA Limits Funding to Liberia After Audit

The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) has restricted funding to the Liberia Football Association (LFA) and is in a near takeover of the FA's finances after audit shows that Liberia football officials have mismanaged football development money intended for the country.

Independent auditors commissioned and sent to Liberia by FIFA issued an adverse opinion after an audit of the LFA and concluding that its review clearly established that the spending of development funding within Liberia Football Association (LFA) shows irregularities, which need further action.

During their meeting on 8 March 2018, the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee decided to suspend funding to the Liberia Football Association until further notice' This decision is based on the findings of the review performed by Control Risks into the usage of development funds, The LFA was told in a letter from Zurich.

"In light of the decision, Liberia Football Association will not receive funding until there has been an evaluation of the remedial actions. AII expenditures of FIFA funds already received can only be spent by written consent of the FIFA administration.

In a June 25, 2018 letter FIFA again reinforced its position. "In light of adverse results identified in the final report received from the independent auditors, the ACC has decided that the release of development funding to your member association i5 to be restricted.

In 2015,Global Corruption watchdog Transparency International released a fresh report on corruption and secrecy in football associations across the world with the Liberia Football Association amongst more than 200 football organizations that cannot say what it has done with millions from FIFA.

The report claimed between 2011 and 2014 every football association received more than US$2milliomn from FIFA - but there has been no accountability on specific programs and projects implemented with respect to football development.

Liberia is ranked amongst the least developed football countries and after more than 14 years since the end of civil war in 2003 there has been no tangible investment targeting football development. Since 2002 Liberia has not qualified for the biannual continental football competition - the African Cup of Nation.

The report:

THE FINANCIAL AND GOVERNANCE BLACK HOLE

Between 2011 and 2014 FIFA distributed a minimum of US$2.05 million to each of its 209 member football associations (FAs). This included a one-off payment in 2014 of US$1.05 million following the success of the World Cup. During that same period FIFA also gave US$102 million to the six regional football Confederations.

FIFA says the money is for football development. But other than a partial accounting on the FIFA web site, there is no clear way to track what the FAs did with all that money.

81 per cent of FAs have no financial records publicly available. 21 per cent of FAs have no websites. 85 percent of FAs publish no activity accounts of what they do.

Transparency International looked for what information is publicly available on the websites of the activities and expenditures of the 209 FAs and six regional Confederations. We wanted to find out how transparent they are about the money they receive from FIFA and their other revenues.

Many of the FAs and the confederations have income from sponsors, broadcasting licenses, ticket sales, international matches and other sources in addition to the funds for FIFA. While they prominently display the logos of their sponsors on their homepages, little to no information is provided on the value of these deals and activities.

We also sent emails to all 209 FAs asking them for links to the information because many websites are hard to navigate and the information hard to find.

Only fourteen out of FIFA's 209 football associations - Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden - publish the minimum amount of information necessary to let people know what they do, how they spend their money and what values they believe in.

While FIFA publishes on its website some details of how its members spend the development funds it gives them, it demands no public accountability from the organisations themselves. It was only in 2014 that FIFA asked for written, audited accounts for its own use. Some of these can be found on the FIFA website. According to FIFA, not all member associations complied by the March 2015 deadline and any further financial assistance payments will not be paid until the report is made available

With the corruption crisis still engulfing FIFA, Transparency International conducted research into the governance structures at FIFA's member associations to see how much information is publicly available about how they operate.

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