Fifa's Zvonimir Boban reflects on corruption, rebuilding - and VAR at the World Cup

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Zvonimir Boban: I changed my life for Gianni Infantino's values

Former AC Milan and Croatia midfielder Zvonimir Boban says he found "a very scared and very lost organisation" that was "destroyed by certain individuals" when he joined Fifa in 2016.

Boban, 49, now deputy secretary-general, started as a football advisor.

And he has credited Fifa's current president Gianni Infantino with making the organisation more transparent.

"From 24 committees before, we now have nine and you can see financial statements," he said.

"If someone wants to see, it is clear. The numbers are very good and a very serious job has been done and you no longer have this figure of £100m other costs.

"We found a very scared and very lost organisation. Made by a few people in a very bad situation, destroyed by certain individuals, who really didn't understand the responsibility to our football money or Fifa as an organisation, and from the very beginning we started a long process of reforms."

Football's world governing body has been beset by scandals, charges of corruption and financial irregularities in recent years, with a number of former executives convicted of offences since a criminal investigation by the FBI and IRS in the United States began in 2015.

Michael Garcia, an ex-Fifa investigator, also resigned in protest at the way his 2014 report into controversial bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar was handled.

Boban says that while he is confident Fifa will "win the war" over the reputational damage it has suffered, he is conscious the organisation has to rebuild from the ground up and has pledged to quadruple the investment the organisation makes into the development of the game.

"Before Fifa was investing £320m all around the place and in the football development," he said. "Now, with the new forward programme invented by Gianni, we will be investing four times more than before so from £1.2bn to £1.4bn in football development because it is not our money, it is not Fifa's money, it is football's money."

'VAR is not perfect'

If processes and departments have been streamlined under Infantino, changes have also been implemented on the pitch, notably with the introduction of video assistant referees (VAR).

VAR has been trialled in some domestic English cup games this season, as well as in Germany and Italy, and Fifa confirmed in March that it would be used at the World Cup in Russia in June.

While Boban is "confident" it does not present a risk, having trialled the system at four tournaments, he did concede it was "not perfect" and open to mistakes from those using the system.

"We said it will never be perfect, but we will eliminate the huge and clear errors and sometimes even using technology, it is a human being who will make mistakes," he said.

Replays of incidents reviewed by VAR will be also shown on big screens at the World Cup, despite criticism of its use in domestic competition.

The system was described as "comical" and "embarrassing" after Tottenham's FA Cup win over Rochdale in late February, when a goal was disallowed and a converted penalty overturned.

Last month, a penalty was awarded after players had already left the pitch for half-time in Mainz's Bundesliga win over relegation rivals Freiburg.

Fifa's announcement that replays will be shown on big screens in Russia follows Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin stressing that VAR required further testing before it would be used in European football's Champions League competition.

"I have some fear for the World Cup, where we will have referees who have never officiated with the VAR," Ceferin told Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport.

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