KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY
** Sepp Blatter’s reform process within FIFA appears to be working, on one level at least.
Proof was in evidence in Zurich recently when the FIFA president, flanked by secretary-general Jerome Valcke and media chief Walter DeGiorgio, popped up for the usual press conference at the end of an executive committee meeting.
Ever since the climatic days of the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding race, in the autumn of 2010, Blatter press conferences – particularly the set-pieces in Zurich – have been top ticket for media hounds.
The conference theatre up within the Home of FIFA has been packed out with a keyboard – assuming that’s the correct collective noun – of sports news reporters.
Outside, in the grounds, journos have been virtually climbing trees or hiding in the bushes or pretending to be Zurich garden gnomes such had been the clamour for a peek at the political action.
So, various heads rolled, lots of pious words were spoken and a reform process was launched involving a bevy of intellectuals who did not know FIFA from a fast food joint plus a raft of tasks forces who disappeared into the committee rooms to decide what should be done, what could be done, what might be done and what they could water down.
In one sense, it is questionable whether the expected pace of change has been achieved. The Ethics Committee system has been thrown up in the air and come down in a more independent, re-staffed manner. But issues such as term and age limits plus vetting procedures and committee representation remain hidden in the small print bound for the 2013 Congress.
The success with which Blatter has rewritten the future can be judged from the attendance of only a dozen journalists for last week’s exco press conference. FIFA politics had suddenly been relegated to a coverage footnote.
Blatter and Valcke might have been justified had they ‘high-fived’ on the way out. Not only that but, a week earlier, Blatter had been cheered in Azerbaijan when he attended the Opening Match of the U-17 Women’s World Cup.
That made a change from his usual reception in western Europe.
Reform FIFA? Maybe. Reform the press focus on FIFA? Absolutely.
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