K E I R R A D N E D G E C O M M E N T A R Y
—- The prospect of Sepp Blatter continuing as president of FIFA beyond the end of his current mandate has been thrown into question by his own reform process.
Blatter had said, on his 2011 re-election, that 2015 would mark the end of his ‘mission.’ However his increasingly equivocal answers on the issue over the last year have prompted speculation that he might harbour dreams of carrying on.
However . . . Germany’s Theo Zwanziger, who is overseeing the closing stages of the FIFA reform process, has revealed that all the six regional confederations believe no president should serve longer than 12 years.
Blatter was elected first in 1998 which means he will have served 17 years by the time of the next scheduled presidential election.
Zwanziger, while noting a range of opinions within the FIFA family about various ideas, reported unanimity on the need to put a check on the current concept of presidential infinity.
He said, in an interview with FIFA’s own website: “There is still some debate about certain administrative issues. Some are calling for age limits, while others prefer a restriction on the number of terms of office.
“We’ve seen two definite positions emerge: First of all, an age limit is seen as discriminatory, and secondly most people seem to be more in favour of a limit to the number of terms for which the FIFA president can hold office.
“One thing everyone does seem to be in agreement about is that the president should not be in office for more than 12 years. Several proposals were made as to how these 12 years should be divided but we will discuss these questions at our next meetings.”
Broadly, one viewpoint favours the present system of four-year terms of office, to a maximum of three; the other viewpoint likes the Olympic system under which the president serves a first term of eight years and then only a second (if re-elected) of four years.
Zwanziger, a lawyer who was ousted a year ago as German federation president, is a UEFA delegate on the FIFA executive committee.
However his summary of reform response appears to run contrary, on at least one crucial aspect, to the will of his own European ‘home’ confederation.
Last month UEFA expressed its unanimous opposition to the reform demand – from governance guru Mark Pieth – that every prospective appointee to a FIFA role should be vetted by the audit and compliance committee. UEFA wanted to retain its own right to such a process.
Yet Zwanziger said: “It is essential that the character of candidates be assessed. Anyone who wants to become FIFA president, sit on the executive committee or become a member of one of the major bodies should have a spotless reputation.
“We must have a guarantee that they will conduct themselves impeccably during their term of office and respect FIFA’s regulations. I am delighted, therefore, that the confederations were unanimously in favour of these checks.”
But were they?
All will become clear when FIFA’s membership votes on the final reform package at congress in Mauritius on May 31 . . . if not before.
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