ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter threw down the governance gauntlet to his executive committee ahead of today’s deliberations on the reform recommendations presented by lead consultant Mark Pieth writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Blatter last October: that 'road map' moment

In a remarkable tactical move, Blatter emerged from yesterday’s first day of this week’s exco meeting to undertake an interview with FIFA.com challenging its members to back him and Pieth – who has threatened to walk away from the process if the recommendations of his Independent Governance Committee are not given full approval.

He may feel that he is on a roll after Brazil’s Congress, earlier yesterday, finally voted its approval for the contentious and long-delayed World Cup Law.

Blatter, asked how confident he was about the outcome of the exco meeting, said: “I remain as confident and as committed as I have been from the beginning of this process. After the difficulties and challenges FIFA went through, I was convinced that we had to reform our organisation and I stressed that publicly, including the need for good governance, transparency and zero tolerance against wrongdoing.

“The FIFA Congress then gave me the mandate to lead this reform process in June 2011, and tomorrow we will discuss the main steps proposed by an independent committee led by Mark Pieth, a global leader in the area of governance and transparency. I am really looking forward to this.”

Reviewing the reform process which began at Congress last June, Blatter added: “I already presented [to Congress] some of the key ideas for reform, including an independent, two-chamber Ethics Committee. One chamber would be able to investigate allegations and the other would be in charge of taking any judicial decisions.

“Following our Statutes and regulations, the Executive Committee later approved a road map for the reforms in October 2011 and only two months later, an Independent Governance Committee (IGC) led by Professor Pieth and his renowned team of experts in the field of governance and compliance started its work on concrete proposals.

“I am very pleased to note that one of the main points I mentioned nearly a year ago is now the crucial point in the recommendations made by the IGC. Tomorrow, Friday, it is the turn of the exco to decide if they support these reforms, to which I am absolutely committed.”

The way ahead, if the exco agrees, is already sketched out.

Blatter said: “The proposed reforms will be brought to the attention of the FIFA Congress on May 24 and 25 where any amendments to the Statutes will have to be voted on. The reforms will have to be implemented step by step and I will do everything in my power to fulfil this promise. Rest assured, we will continue to follow the road map that we have established.”

Of course, if the exco rebels, then Blatter’s only option would be to go over its head to Congress. That is the implicit threat – but also the last trick up his sleeve.

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