By Jonathan Copping, Sports Lawyer, Bolt Burdon Law Firm, London, United Kingdom
Fatma Samoura, the FIFA General Secretary, has announced in an interview, on 29 March 2017, with the Russian business daily, Vedomosti, that FIFA will organise the 2026 World Cup on its own, scrapping the current system of using local organising committees, which will undergo reforms between the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
FIFA currently mandates a local organising committee (LOC) with the responsibility for the delivery of World Cups. The LOC for the delivery of 2018 World Cup in Russia was set up by the Russian Government and the Football Union of Russia. Alexey Sorokin, the head of Russia’s bid to host the World Cup, is the CEO of the LOC and Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is the chair of the Supervisory Board of the LOC.
This World Cup and that of 2022 will not be affected by these changes, which, when announcing them, Fatma Samoura stated as follows:
“We don’t want to have to create a new structure from scratch (for every World Cup) [which will be] difficult and costly. We want to have a permanent professional team that will have all competences like organisation and combine this experience with local know-how”.
She added that the changes are designed to “increase control and effectiveness” bearing in mind that LOCs have previously come under scrutiny regarding delays in related infrastructure projects.
The current system of delivering the World Cup means that, whilst FIFA delegates the organisation to an LOC that has extensive knowledge of and links in the host country, FIFA is still very much involved in the delivery process and undertakes a number of inspections. By taking the organisation of its flag-ship event back in-house, this will mean that the organisation team will not have the same level of knowledge of or links in the host country, but should have the requisite skill sets to deliver large-scale events.
Additionally, Fatma Samoura has also announced that FIFA plans to take ticketing operations in-house as well as from the 2026 World Cup, although no further details have been released, so far, about these plans.
It seems that it is all change at FIFA, with the new regime, and let us see how these changes pan out in practice!
Jonathan Copping may be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@boltburdon.co.uk’