Sunday 26 February 2017, 10:05

Q&A with FIFA Deputy Secretary General Zvonimir Boban

One year on from the Extraordinary FIFA Congress 2016, FIFA Deputy Secretary General Zvonimir Boban spoke about the practical side of the reforms implemented and the new structure at the organisation.

As part of the restructuring of FIFA into two distinct parts, you are responsible for the development of football and the execution of football operations. What is your assessment of the work done so far? FIFA’s new operating structure, devised by the FIFA President and approved by the Council, has brought about greater clarity and coherence on everybody’s roles and responsibilities. This has guaranteed that all the different departments are aligned in creating an organisation which is more efficient, dynamic and which works together.

The football side of FIFA, for which I am responsible, is composed of four divisions: Competitions & Events, Member Associations, Technical Development and Women’s Football, and the first objective was to identify the right people to drive the new structure. This needed to be done relatively quickly but also with great care and attention. This process is now almost complete and we are very happy with the decisions that have been taken and the new team is up and running.

The highest priority now, given its extreme importance for world football and for FIFA, is the new and revolutionary Forward Programme. The Member Associations and Technical Development divisions are fully immersed in the implementation of the programme and the role of FIFA’s new and better structured regional offices will also be fundamental in facilitating tailor-made development projects for our member associations. We are also defining the priorities and direction for the development of women’s football, which is another key aspect of FIFA’s new vision. In my opinion, not having done this previously was a significant oversight which we now hope to put right.

A lot is being said about the future of football and changes that FIFA would like to make to the beautiful game. The fact that we call it ”the beautiful game” suggests that there is not really a big need to make many changes. Or put another way, if we make changes, they need to be done with great care in order to ensure that the nature of the game is in no way adversely affected. We shouldn’t be bound by tradition, but it always needs to be respected and it should be a starting point.

For this reason we have The IFAB, to which we are appreciative for the wonderful game we have today. Having said this, it is important to remind those that are resistant to change of the introduction of the back-pass rule which gave football the dynamism it has today by increasing the time the ball is in play and adding a new dimension to the game. I am sure that VAR will have the same positive impact through enhancing the integrity and honesty in our game. We need to realise, however, that although it will never be perfect, it will – for sure – avoid a lot of controversy and will preserve many footballing destinies which can be ruined by something we are all susceptible to – human error.

In a short space of time, The Best FIFA Football Awards and the FIFA Legends Programme have generated huge media interest. Everything which I have mentioned, including these two projects, comes from the President’s clear belief that we need to bring football back to FIFA and FIFA back to football. The Best, in view of the challenges to organise such an event in a very limited time frame, was a tremendous success, immediately positioning itself as the official “Footballing Oscars” and showing the strength of FIFA as an organisation with all those that worked on the event doing an amazing job.

The Legends Programme is based on the notion of respect for those which have created and given so much to football at the heart of the game – in that magical green rectangle. In addition, it represents a coming together of football’s administration with its key actors, where barriers disappear and where everybody unites to share the same passion – football.

A new business model for the FIFA World Football Museum is being explored by the task force which you are leading. What is its current status?  Every museum has social, cultural and humanistic value. Such value is to be shared by all. Having said this, the museum was not set up in a financially responsible manner and the only way to ensure its continuation has been to completely revisit how it is run. A new business plan is being put in place based on renewed activities and ideas. This will be presented to the Council, which I am sure will be in support of the new approach. The museum cannot be perceived as a problem for FIFA’s reputation and it should instead be seen as a significant asset… however, we need to first make sure it is an asset.

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