By Nick Butler

Former BOA chief Lord Moynihan has introduced a Private Members Bill seeking changes in the relationships between the British Government and international governing bodies ©Getty ImagesA radical new proposal has been launched that could altar the balance of power between the British Government and sporting organisations and, if successful, would enable the Government to challenge bodies, including FIFA. 

Proposed by former Sports Minister Lord Colin Moynihan, who served as British Olympic Association chairman from 2005 until 2012 when he was replaced by fellow Lord, Sebastian Coe, the Private Members Bill submitted to the House of Lords would give Governments the power to scrutinise bodies, including FIFA, to ensure good governance. 

National bodies would also be subject to influence, such as golf clubs who do not admit female members. 

In return, the Government would have to submit to a number of statutory requirements to prove it was taking sport seriously, while Health and Education Ministers would place annual reports before Parliament on how they were furthering the public health and school sport agendas and the introduction of new legislation relating to match-fixing. 

Although Moynihan, who won an Olympic rowing silver medal for Britain at Moscow 1980, admitted Governments should have no role in the actual rules and regulations of sport, he claimed that increased commercialisation meant that a new bill was overdue.

"The Bill would allow the Secretary of State [for Culture, Media and Sport] to challenge FIFA," Moynihan said.. 

"If every country followed this line, very swiftly FIFA would respond.

"Over the next 20 years, the governance, transparency and accountability of international sport will be even more of an issue.

"There are billions of pounds in sport and we've got to put in place mechanisms that match that investment."

"Only by demonstrating good governance in sport can Government and British sports administrators use their influence internationally.

"Only through the introduction of best governance among international bodies and federations will the problems that have already beset many of the international organisations - from FIFA today, to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Salt Lake City in 2002, and to Formula One over recent years - be consigned to history."

This comes at a time when there has been a lot of rhetoric in the IOC about good governance, as well as about ensuring autonomy from National Governments ©AFP/Getty ImagesThis comes at a time when there has been a lot of rhetoric in the IOC about good governance, as well as about ensuring autonomy from National Governments ©AFP/Getty Images

The Bill was introduced into the House of Lords last week and remains in the earliest of stages.

If it is to be successful it will have to pass two readings before a Committee and a Report stage and another reading, before passing a similar process in the House of Commons, during which time it could be rejected or severely amended. 

However, even if it is ultimately unsuccessful, as much as anything else the aim of the Bill is to act as a catalyst to provoke debate and keep the issues therein in the public eye.

Good governance in sport is an issue about which there has been a lot of rhetoric in recent times, with it being one important issue in the Olympic Agenda 2020 reform process currently ongoing within the IOC.

But, with IOC President Thomas Bach, also very keen to ensure the autonomy and independence of National Olympic Committees from their respective Governments, the Bill would potentially throw this into question. 

Moynihan believes the Bill would provide a vehicle to solve some of the more intractable debates surrounding sport in Britain, while it could also set a precedent for other countries to follow the British lead.
The ongoing corruption allegations surrounding FIFA in recent weeks ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil highlights the importance of changes included in the Bill, it is claimed.

Britain have long had a fractious relationship with FIFA as shown by the failure of the England 2018 bid for the FIFA World Cup ©AFP/Getty ImagesBritain have long had a fractious relationship with FIFA as shown by the failure of the England 2018 bid for the FIFA World Cup ©AFP/Getty Images

This follows last month's revelation by The Sunday Times in London that it had seen millions of secret documents which allegedly prove football officials were paid a total of $5 million (£3 million/€3.6 million) to back Qatar's bid for the 2022 World Cup.

Since then, FIFA has largely closed ranks and accused critics of being motivated by racism, with it being likely that President Sepp Blatter will successfully stand for a fifth-term as President despite the criticism. 

If successful, Moynihan's attempt would mark the first opportunity to legislate against FIFA, because there is currently no mechanism to force change on the governing body except through internal means.

Among other football-related proposals in the Bill is a suggestion that only a limited number of visas should be granted for overseas players but that if they were not used they could be traded for a "considerable" consideration.

The plan, Moynihan believes, would help address the lack of home-grown talent coming through the system to elite level.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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