THE BLOG

Lack of Transparency Brings Nasty Surprises to the Sports Industry

29/05/2015 12:10 BST | Updated 29/05/2016 10:59 BST
Ian Walton via Getty Images

As this week has showcased, the lack of transparency can mean nasty surprises with all sorts of skeletons coming out of the closet; may it be issues around bonuses, offshore dealings, agents and managers taking cuts from transfers or hardcore corruption. Sadly, some awful real truths about one of our favourite games have showed themselves without any further delay.

However, interestingly, it's not until a major incident happens, such as the Fifa arrests, that people start getting involved with the transparency debate and why the sports industry needs to address the lack of it urgently. Looking at the Qatar scandal and the refusal of Fifa to publish the whole Garcia report, which most certainly suggested that some level of corruption was taking place within the organisation, yet the severe allegations about potential corruption died off fairly quickly and again, the issues that should have been addressed on the back of this was buried once again.

Lack of transparency can mean nasty surprises for potential investors, potential sponsors, potential players and potential fans. End of the day, football is a business, with fans being the main stakeholders. So comparing football to any other business, complete transparency is something that goes without saying. Never would you get away with hiding crucial information, let alone money, from stakeholders and investors, in any other industry. Transparency shows everyone that the 'restaurant' is clean. An open kitchen means a clean kitchen. A good kitchen. Surely that's what we're aiming for?

So what is that we actually want to achieve by increased transparency and who's asking for it? Players? Clubs owners? Agents? Fifa? Society? Fans? Perhaps everyone? It's interesting to see that all of a sudden, everyone is desperate to be associated with transparency. How can that not be the norm already? Or have we grown so accustomed to these issues that we only 'dare' to get involved in the conversation when it's 'appropriate' to do so...

It must be said that there are people that are calling for increased transparency as not only would it bring more opportunities to the industry but business, transfer-wise etc would also be done and finalised much quicker; others, however, are of the notion that it'd cause loss of control and as a result, they'd lose out on big chunks of cash. Or even worse, they'd most likely lose their job or go to prison should hidden information be disclosed.

We can go on for days about the 'additional' revenue streams that are created as a result of doing business in a 'hidden' and complex environment that many find difficult to grasp. By encouraging increased transparency would not only mean that there'd be a better understanding of what's going on but it'd also allow more people to succeed in a fair and proper way, people that are currently being stripped off those opportunities as corruption stands in their way; it'd also prevent these certain 'chosen' individuals to being prioritised and put at the top of the list for no other reason then corruption.

As reality stands, unfortunately, you can't fight upfront corruption and if you want to continue in the game, the only option is to turn your back and ignore it. Yet, we want footballers and all sportsmen to be the best possible role models to the next generation, to act appropriately and separate right from wrong. However, it's difficult to perform such a task within an industry based on confusion, lies and not very logical decisions. The size of the issues have become too big to challenge - the issues have become bigger than us.

Players are constantly begin left in the dark to the point where during transfers and negotiations, players are not invited to participate in the meetings and as a result, they're unaware of what the deal actually is. All they're told is to continue to perform well on the pitch and not worrying about the rest. Agents, sports directors, lawyers, chairmen, unions and federations are the ones aware of the details. Dirty or not, you have to follow the 'procedures' if you want to keep your job.

This is where we can actually make a real difference by providing players, agents, clubs, actually anyone within the professional sports industry, with new tools and technology that will allow them to make the vetting and negotiating process much cleaner, easy to understand and completely transparent; a new, yet simple, way to restore that much needed trust.

At this point in time, the number one priority should be to bring back the focus on entertainment and great values, something absolutely crucial! However, as a results of putting too much emphasise on the money part of things and not the actual sports, the current decision makers have lost the power to enforce and implement much needed changes and the industry are now forced to look elsewhere for support to try to rebuild its well deserved reputation.

Sports need fresh ideas, new technologies and new leaders. Not everything has to change in a quest of transparency but there are major tweaks that need to be implemented soonest. Unfortunately, as things have gone from bad to worse, to the point where we're focusing on money and arrests rather than actually enjoying the game, this is a call for the industry to change from its core. Football is one of the most played sports in the world and its heritage and tradition go way back, something to be proud of. There are so many amazing football related project happening around the globe, many of which help underprivileged children and families; yet no one is talking about that at the moment.

Like a bad illness, I'm fed up hearing about researchers nearly finding a cure, I want to hear about the actual test results. It's almost as we've become numb, thinking that there's no point trying to change something we can't. Out of everything, this is the saddest thing in this corruption debate.

For me, a good step towards increased transparency would be to open up the voting system for the Fifa president to allow other key industry personnel to participate. Sadly, this week has overshadowed any positive exciting football news, and it's not the first time.

However, we're now armed with something that we didn't have access to few years ago; the power of communicating with the masses through social networks and communities. I would like to see clubs and agents to apply some of these new opportunities to create a business without the dark sides attached to it, a business where the focus is on the actual sport, the players and what's in the best interest of the fans.

It shouldn't have to take seven arrests to showcase what the industry lacks: transparency.

I'm inviting every professional sportsmen, agents, clubs and federations to test www.axisstars.com, a platform that's working towards increased transparency and the creation of a new ecosystem to improve the sports industry at large.