KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH —- FIFA collapsed into apparent meltdown here this afternoon when it cancelled, at 10 minutes’ notice, a news conference scheduled to have been staged – as is usual – after the latest meeting of the world federation’s executive committee.
As around 150 print and broadcast journalists milled around outside the Home of FIFA, so a bald statement of cancellation was issued without explanation or clarification or apology.
A number of legally sensitive issues have been swirling around embattled and now further-discredited presdent Sepp Blatter over the past 10 days from a warning of further arrests by the United States Justice Department to the suspension of secretary-general Jerome Valcke over tickets scam allegations plus the chaos over reform proposals.
A further issue was laid bare in the statement of issues discussed at the meeting in the decision not to stage the next exco meeting, scheduled for December, in Tokyo is planned. Instead the meeting will be held in Zurich thus protecting Blatter from running the danger of arrest in a country, Japan, which has an extradition treaty with the US.
The news conference had been scheduled for a 2pm start in Zurich. Sources from within FIFA suggested that Blatter, unusually in s post-exco conference, would face the media alone without even the support of interim general secretary Markus Kattner, who is standing in for the suspended Valcke.
An hour earlier German federation president Wolfgang Niersbach had emerged from the vast grey edifice, talked briefly and in general terms to German reporters. He gave no hint of any change of plan and other exco members, contacted later, were also apparently in ignorance.
Ten minutes before the start of the press conference a FIFA media spokeswoman emerged to announce a one-hour delay. Ten minutes before the scheduled 3pm start so FIFA issue a press release announcing that the conference had been cancelled and appending a brief summary of the discussions and decisions taken over the previous two days.
No reason for the cancellation was given.
The press release:
FIFA executive vows to improve governance and boost female participation in football
Today’s press conference is cancelled. Please find below a detailed summary of the FIFA Executive Committee meeting.
At a two-day meeting in Zurich this week, the FIFA Executive Committee deliberated on a number of forward-looking measures to improve governance as part of the reform process and to promote greater participation of women in football.
In regard to the proposed amendments to article 36 of the FIFA Code of Ethics to allow the independent Ethics Committee to publish more information about its proceedings, the Executive Committee declared its support in principle and asked the FIFA Legal Committee for a final deliberation ahead of the next Executive Committee meeting.The independent chairmen of the committee’s two chambers, Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbély, had advocated this change in the interest of transparency and understanding of their work.
The executive also supported the call made by the FIFA Task Force for Women’s Football for greater inclusion and participation of women in football, which will be referred to the 2016 FIFA Reform Committee for consideration in the development of the final reform proposals. The committee also agreed to the amended regulations to ensure more female members of team delegations at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2016 in Papua New Guinea. This follows on from a similar change to the regulations for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which were approved last March. Sonia Bien-Aimé has also been appointed as the new chairwoman of the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
The chairman of the 2016 FIFA Reform Committee, François Carrard, briefed the members on his committee’s work and said that he would submit a set of recommended reform proposals to the Executive Committee at its December meeting. The Executive Committee welcomed François Carrard’s report and reconfirmed its commitment to reforms.
It was also re-confirmed during the meeting that there would be no obligation for clubs to release players for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016, given that the event is not part of the international match calendar. However, FIFA is asking for support from the clubs to allow players who are called up by their national teams to be given the chance to be part of the Olympic experience.
Given the current refugee crisis, the Executive Committee decided to donate USD 1 million to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR). It was decided that this would be the most efficient way for FIFA to help refugees.
Other decisions taken by the Executive Committee included the following:
– Approval of the agenda for the Extraordinary FIFA Congress that will take place in Zurich on 26 February 2016 in order to appoint a new FIFA President. The agenda will include a package of reforms and amendments to the FIFA Statutes.
– The next Executive Committee meeting, the last of 2015, will take place in Zurich in December with the date yet to be confirmed.
– Approval of the international match calendar for the 2018-2024 period, including the competition dates for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ to be staged from 21 November to 18 December 2022.
– Constant Omari has been appointed as the new chairman of the Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination.
– The Oceanian Football Confederation (OFC) will receive an additional slot (in total two) for the FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cups as of 2017. UEFA will have 5 instead of 6 slots.
– Futsal will replace football at the Youth Olympic Football Tournaments Buenos Aires 2018.
– The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has to revise its statutes and hold new elections within two years. FIFA will also act on the recent appointment of a court administrator to the PFF, which is considered as interference. The PFF must report to the FIFA Associations Committee every six months on the progress of this revision process.
– To address the situation at the Benin Football Association, it was decided to appoint a normalisation committee in accordance with art. 7 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes with a mandate until April 2016. The tasks of the committee will be to normalise the situation of the national teams and to organise elections which will be open to all candidatures, including from the members of the outgoing FBF executive committee.
– Kohzo Tashima will lead a joint FIFA/AFC delegation, composed of H.R.H. Prince Abdullah (FIFA) and Mariano Araneta (AFC), to Jakarta to assist the Football Association of Indonesia in its negotiations with stakeholders and to identify solutions for Indonesian football to ensure that the suspension can be lifted as soon as possible.
– To contact the Kuwait Football Association about the new sport law and warn about a suspension if nothing is done by 15 October 2015 to avoid the implementation of the new law due to come into force on 27 October 2015.
– To extend the mandate of the normalisation committees of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), the Football Association of Maldives (FAM), and the Togolese Football Association (FTF) until 30 November 2015, 30 October 2015 and 31 December 2015, respectively.