For students of public relations and media management, this has been a red letter day – a real life case study in how not to do it. It should have been a milestone in the rehabilitation of an organisation that has attracted more than its fair share of criticism in recent years : over alleged dodgy deals relating to TV rights; over attempted bribes to win votes in presidential elections; over the decision to award the World Cup finals to a country where temperatures at the normal time of matches will top 40 degrees C. Following the commissioning of an independent investigation into the award of that World Cup to Qatar (and the one after to Russia), the publication of the report today was trailed by FIFA’s Executive as a vindication of the award process, and confirmation that the organisation’s claims that it behaved ethically and professionally were fully justified.
Unfortunately, we now know that the version of the report that has been released by FIFA may tell some of the truth, but it appears that it’s neither the whole truth nor anything but the truth. The independent investigator has complained that his findings have been misrepresented by FIFA to such an extent that he does not recognise the conclusions that have been published. FIFA has so far resisted calls for the full report to be published, claiming that to do so would breach the anonymity of some witnesses who had been promised that they would not be publicly identified.
It’s fair to say that the whole thing is a shambles. It’s almost impossible to see how FIFA’s Executive can survive this latest debacle unscathed. But that’s been said many times before too.