For the last eight months I have been a member of a three man team which has looked at the governance of the Irish Football Association.

The review team comprised of Timothy Quin, the Chairman, a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and former President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, David Watkins, formerly a senior civil servant in the Northern Ireland Office and Deputy Chief Executive of the Industrial Development Board and myself.

It was a very balanced team with expertise in commerce, law, finance, company governance, national government procedures and of course football.

All are essential elements in a review of governance of a football association.

A very important part of the review was listening to the opinions of stakeholders from all over Northern Ireland and the review team did this with meetings and presentations to different divisional associations, leagues, associations and individuals.

Over an eight month period the final report emerged, and although sometimes critical of some aspects of the IFA governance, the changes to the IFA Articles of Association and Standing Orders which were recommended were accepted at the AGM and EGM of the Irish Football Association on 29th June 2011, with 84% of the members in favour.

This is just the starting point for the IFA, but it is an essential first step and many more changes will emerge in the next few years with this report as the catalyst.

A few weeks earlier, a similar approach was taken by the Scottish Football Association, which approved a report into its governance and procedures by Henry McLeish, a former First Minister of the Scottish Parliament and former professional footballer.

Again, the results were accepted at an AGM, this time unanimously, by the SFA members.

The main point is that both associations recognised the need to modernise and grasped the nettle and the challenge of change.

FIFA was founded over 100 years ago but has had major governance problems in the last ten years.

It must also grasp the nettle of change and have an independent review into its governance and structure, chaired by a universally accepted senior international diplomat, not by a football personality, as it has done in the past.

The recent allegations of corruption and maladministration do no credit to the governing body of world football.

The accusations must be fully investigated and not pushed from one committee to the next to be finally lost in the labyrinth of FIFA procedures.

FIFA must move forward but it must have a structure and administration which can generate the essential changes.

The question many people will ask is has it the courage to face up to the challenges of modern football governance?

The Irish FA and the Scottish FA have done it.

Why not FIFA?

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