TOKYO: All final decisions on the details of FIFA’s reform process will be decided by world football insiders; the work and influence of governance expert Mark Pieth is at an end writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

This is FIFA’s destiny after the governing executive committee, in Tokyo today, heard an update on the process from German exco member Theo Zwanziger.

The former German federation president heads a working group set up by the exco in September to consult the 209 member associations on reform proposals.

How much influence individual FAs may have is questionable; the group comprises ‘only’ the general secretaries and legal directors of the six regional confederations.

Reform advocates, critical of FIFA’s failure to match the pace promised by president Sepp Blatter at the 2011 Congress, will be concerned that assessment of the most delicate issues will be left to a small group of senior figures.

The 10 ‘open’ topics were defined by an internal report as:

1, Confirmation of the members of the FIFA Executive Committee by the FIFA Congress

2, Composition of the FIFA Executive Committee

3, Election of the FIFA President

4, Term of office

5, Age limit

6, Stronger representation of interest groups in FIFA

7, Bidding process/decision on venue of FIFA World Cup

8, Various clarifications and specifications in the FIFA Statutes

9, International Football Association Board (IFAB)

10 Candidatures rules for FIFA president

The most critical elements which will define the working group’s understanding of the need for transparency and credibility concern the composition of the exco, term and age limits.

The reform process was set under way at the 2011 Congress by scandal-embattered president Sepp Blatter. Basel governance Pieth was commissioned to come up with proposals which generated, so far, ‘only’ a rebuilding of the ethics code system.

The work of Pieth and his associates ended, in effect, when the exco entrusted all the finishing touches to Zwanziger’s working group.

They will thus have no input in the conclusions taken by the working group in February (which must then, in any case, be approved by the exco).

Blatter confirmed, as a press conference after the exco in Toyko, that a conclusion was in sight.

He said: “FIFA’s reform process is coming to an end, according to the roadmap established after the 2011 congress. Congress in 2011 made various decisions concerning the ethics committee, transparency and the revision of statutes which we have realised: the ethics committee is at full speed with the two chambers organised; we have the audit and compliance committee working, they have already had their second meeting and now we are going forward with the consultation of the 209 national associations to be ready with some changes in the statutes if they are necessary so by the next congress at the end of May in Mauritius.

“Then we will be at the end of this reform process and FIFA – a big organisation of 300m people – will be in good shape and also we hope in a very positive perception.”

Blatter added a rider that he would expect to see FIFA’s own reforms mimicked in the various confederations and national associations.

Key dates in the concluding phase of reform work next spring were confirmed as follows:

January: final input by the confederations on the 10 topics

February: second meeting of the working group followed by a meeting of the FIFA Legal Committee to draw up the remaining proposals and submit draft to FIFA exco

March 20-21: FIFA exco to review and approve remaining reform proposals to be submitted to the FIFA Congress

May 31: FIFA Congress to review and vote on remaining reform proposals

Further clarification on the will for change may come when FIFA president Sepp Blatter faces the media tomorrow/Saturday.

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