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PORT LOUIS:  ‘Mauritius Smile’ is a popular welcoming cocktail on the holiday island in Indian Ocean and FIFA hopes to be worthy of the sentiment by Friday evening.

That is when the formalities of the world federation’s two-day annual congress draw to a close and when it hopes the horrors of the last few years will have been put to rest.

Sunny days for FIFA and Sepp Blatter in Mauritius

President Sepp Blatter has promised that this congress will see the conclusion of the main body of the reform process which was kicked off in Zurich two years ago as FIFA tumbled headlong into a scandal-packed abyss entirely of its own making.

Blatter believes that the European media is the last bastion still sceptical of the credibility of the reform programme; his relief at having seen off the likes of Mohamed Bin Hammam, Ricardo Teixeira and Jack Warner may have misled him.


Transparency International, a leading campaigner for reform, remains on the fence while anti-corruption expert Alexandra Wrage quit the governance advisory panel in frustration at the lack of pace of change.

Hence reform tops the agenda, metaphorically if not formally, at the congress working session in the Swami Vivekananda Convention Centre on Friday.

In fact it starts at Item 12 with a review of work so far which has included the creation of the improved and expanded ethics ‘policing’ system; also the World Cup host selection decision has reverted to Congress from the executive committee after the disastrous 2018/2022 process which earned FIFA such deserved opprobrium.

Item 13 involves congress in the action when it is expected to approve a wealth of detail of reformist changes to the FIFA statutes. The thorny issues of age limits and term limits has been deferred by the executive committee because of the failure to reach a consensus.

With all the reform issues, the devil is in the detail.

One instance is the redrawn system for choosing a president. A candidature should now be supported by at least five national associations and must have worked in the game for at least two of the last five years thus ruling out the risk of any single-agenda candidates.

No more ‘nuisance’ bids for power and profile, then.

Also, candidates for the presidency must be registered four months before the election instead of two months, as in the past.

Platini poser

This could be significant for Michel Platini in 2015. UEFA Congress always precedes FIFA Congress.

In the past Platini might have been enabled to gain re-election by UEFA and then stand for the leadership of FIFA. The new timing means he would have to have declared a candidacy for FIFA ahead of his own UEFA re-election congress.

This will present the Frenchman with an intriguing dilemma if – as is by no means certain, in any case – he decides on a run at the top job in FIFA.

To gain re-election by UEFA he would need to present a manifesto for four further years. How he could do so after having also submitted a simultaneous candidacy for FIFA?

All of this may be good news, instead and in either direction, for Spain’s Angel Villar. He has been tipped mischievously by Blatter as a likely presidential candidate for either UEFA or FIFA; currently the former Bilbao midfielder is a vice-president of both.

Hence – whatever Blatter may suggest – not all the questions will have been answered by the time FIFA delegates head off for their pre-dinner cocktails on Friday evening.


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