BERN: Francois Carrard, derided for comments to a Swiss newspaper last week, went to the other extreme after closing the opening two-day meeting of the new FIFA reform committee which he chairs.

The Swiss lawyer was widely criticised for disparaging comments about both legal culture and football in the United States and followed up by offering no hostages to the media at all in Bern today.

Carrard was appointed last month to head a 12-strong reform panel comprising two representatives nominated by each of the world football federation’s six regional confederations.

The panel’s composition prompted criticism that it would be incapable of devising reform with any degree of independence. Carrard, to balance this, has promised to set up his own five-strong advisory board to supervise the work begun on neutral territory in Bern (FIFA is based in Zurich, powerful European federation UEFA is in Nyon, near Geneva).

Yesterday’s morning session was taken up with a presentation by Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee. He favours replacing the executive committee with a ‘corporate board’ structure.

Carrard refused to offer any details about issues debated by the reform committee.

He said only: “We are not at the stage of the proposals, we have covered, studied, reviewed and exchanged opinions on all areas. The specific proposals will be on the table at the next meeting which will be in October.”

Carrard played down concerns that a consensus from among confederation representatives would be hard to achieve.

He said: “I had no feeling of any fight at all. The members of the committee have, without exception, discussed every area in the most open and constructive way.

“We had some fabulous input, very independent. There was no particular comment as to Mr Scala’s presentation, which was excellent.”

Carrard will present an interim report to FIFA’s next executive committee meeting on September 24-25 in Zurich.