NYON: Europe’s 53 national associations want FIFA to adopt ‘the Olympic option’ to restrict the terms in office of future presidents of the world federation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
This would mean that from 2015, when long-serving Sepp Blatter has promised to step down, his successor could serve a maximum of a first term of eight years and a second of four years.
Such a system was adopted by the International Olympic Committee in its restructuring after the Salt Lake City scandal. Belgian Jacques Rogge began his initial eight-year term in 2001, was re-elected unopposed in 2009 for the allotted subsequent four years and must retire next September.
UEFA’s federations were meeting by demand of FIFA’s ‘reform manager’ – Germany’s Theo Zwanziger – to discuss proposed amendments to the world federation’s governing statutes.
The general secretaries of all six world confederations (Africa, Asia, CONCACAF, Europe, Oceania and South America) have been commissioned to assess regional feedback.
This was Europe’s open and transparent method for both informing and tying the hands of Gianni Infantino, the UEFA general secretary. Other confederations may not be as forthcoming or as democratic.
Infantino conducted the meeting which was attended by the presidents and general secretaries of the 53 members plus all UEFA’s delegates on the FIFA exco including European president Michel Platini who is favoured to succeed Blatter.
On other reform issues UEFA opposed its own chosen delegates being vetted by FIFA’s new audit and compliance committee, rejected any expansion of the FIFA exco with representatives of other spheres of the game (clubs, referees, etc) and opposed term limits for appointees.
However it backed a FIFA appointee age limit of 72 as well as maintaining both the British vice-presidency and the set-up of the International Board. However it demanded greater accountability as to how FIFA wields its four votes on the law-making body.
One recent complaint by Platini was that Blatter cast all four FIFA votes at IFAB without reference to the exco.
UEFA’s unanimous declaration
** After meeting in Nyon today [Thursday, January 24, 2013], the 53 European FIFA member associations have unanimously adopted a declaration regarding proposed amendments to the FIFA Statutes.
The 53 European FIFA member associations have unanimously adopted a declaration regarding proposed amendments to the FIFA Statutes following a meeting of the associations’ presidents and general secretaries at the House of European Football in Nyon.
The meeting, conducted by UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino and attended by UEFA President Michel Platini together with the members of the UEFA Executive Committee, was requested by FIFA as part of a consultation process with all member associations regarding possible statutory amendments.
Discussions included a review of the amendments to the FIFA Statutes approved at the 2012 FIFA Congress; remaining proposed amendments to the FIFA Statutes; and other potential amendments focusing on good governance matters related to the FIFA Statutes.
Among the key points of the declaration, the member associations were of the opinion that members of the FIFA Executive Committee should continue to be appointed by the continental confederations, and that confirmation by the FIFA Congress would not be necessary.
In addition, any integrity checks on FIFA Executive Committee members should be carried out by the confederations.
The full declaration reads as follows:
Declaration of the 53 European FIFA member associations regarding the revision of the FIFA Statutes
I. Introductory remarks
Following the meeting of the presidents and general secretaries of the 53 European FIFA member associations in Nyon on 24 January 2013, the 53 European FIFA member associations unanimously adopt this declaration in relation to the outstanding statutory amendments proposed by FIFA in order to improve its governance.
II. Amendment proposals
1. Confirmation of the members of the FIFA Executive Committee:
• Members of the FIFA Executive Committee shall be appointed by the confederations as they are today. There is no need for members of the FIFA Executive Committee to be ‘confirmed’ by the FIFA Congress;
• If ‘integrity checks’ are needed for members of the FIFA Executive Committee such checks shall be conducted at confederation level on the basis of agreed minimum criteria. In particular, a person who has been banned by a sports disciplinary organ for corruption, match-fixing, doping or violence shall not be eligible to become a FIFA Executive Committee member.
2. Composition of the FIFA Executive Committee:
• There shall be no change to the basic composition of the FIFA Executive Committee, in particular, to the number of vice-presidents;
• The four British associations shall retain an automatic vice-presidency (possibly elected by the confederation of which these four national associations are members).
3. Election of the FIFA President:
• A minimum level of support (ten national football associations from at least two confederations) may be required for a candidate to run for the FIFA Presidency (though it would also be acceptable for these ten associations to belong to the same confederation);
• Candidates for the FIFA Presidency should be supported by their own national association and/or confederation and have an ‘active office’ within that national association and/or confederation.
4. Term of office:
• A maximum term of office for the FIFA President should be introduced as of 2015 (with the current IOC rule providing a good model to follow, i.e. a first term of eight years and a second and last term of four years);
• There should be no restrictions on term limits for members of the FIFA Executive Committee or other FIFA bodies.
5. Age limit:
• A general age limit of 72 years at the time of election/appointment is appropriate for members of all FIFA bodies.
6. Stronger representation of interest groups in FIFA:
• The wording proposed by FIFA in Article 10(1) should be amended to foresee that national associations involve relevant stakeholders, either directly or indirectly, for example through consultation, in their decision-making processes;
• National associations and confederations must always be represented in those FIFA bodies which discuss matters affecting their interests, such as the club football committee whose tasks include matters such as release of players for national teams, international match calendar etc.
7. Bidding process/decision on venue of FIFA World Cup:
• As already agreed, the FIFA Congress should decide on the venue of the FIFA World Cup based on a transparent bidding process. To this effect, the FIFA Executive Committee should, if necessary, make a pre-selection and submit a maximum of three bids to the FIFA Congress.
8. Various clarifications and specifications in the FIFA Statutes
• The clarifications and specifications proposed by FIFA are in principle supported although precise definitions (e.g. concerning calculation of majorities) should always be as clear as possible.
Clear and transparent rules should be established on:
• How the process for proposals to amend the Laws of the Game works;
• How the FIFA Executive Committee exercises control over the four FIFA votes in IFAB, after it has previously consulted relevant stakeholders;
• The Laws of the Game can be amended only every two years.
10. Regulations governing candidatures for the office of FIFA President:
• The issuance of such regulations is supported in principle (subject to the detail of what such regulations contain).
11. Other proposals
In addition to the ten points mentioned above, the 53 European FIFA member associations also propose that FIFA takes steps to meet the following objectives:
• To ensure that all decisions having an impact on national associations or confederations undergo prior appropriate consultation;
• To ensure complete transparency regarding the in-flow and out-flow of financial payments;
• To ensure the FIFA Executive Committee always receives appropriate prior notice of matters (including relevant documentation) that it must discuss and decide;
• To appoint all members of FIFA committees and organs to commence their term of office in the year following the election of the FIFA President and then every subsequent four years;
• To abolish the commercial levy currently provided for in Article 77 of the FIFA Statutes;
• To give the Court of Arbitration for Sport exclusive competence to decide on provisional measures.
III. Concluding Remarks
Amendments to the FIFA Statutes that are not recognised in the present declaration are not supported by the 53 European FIFA member associations. The 53 European FIFA member associations give a mandate to the UEFA President, the European members of the FIFA Executive Committee and the UEFA General Secretary to present this declaration to FIFA as the clear position of the 53 European FIFA member associations.