KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —– A 12-year term limit for the president, an age limit of 74 for exco members and publication of executives’ salary are key recommendations from the FIFA reform committee.
These were a few flashes of light glimmering out today from the black hole which has been the leadership of the world football federation over the last few months.
An emergency meeting of the FIFA executive committee, chaired by interim president Issa Hayatou in the absence of suspended Sepp Blatter, heard the latest stage of reform work while also confirming that the election for a new leader will go ahead as scheduled next February 26.
The meeting had been summoned to debate the way forward after the suspension of not only Blatter but also UEFA president Michel Platini pending an investigation into allegations concerning financial mismanagement.
Blatter and Platini, one of FIFA’s vice-presidents, were not the only absentees. Also missing was Brazilian CBF head Marco Polo Del Nero who is being kicked off the exco by his own South American federation because he refuses to leave the extradition-proof safety of his homeland.
In a further positive development the exco also approved an easing of the restrictions on what the ethics committee may, and may not, publish about ongoing investigations – starting within 24 eagerly-awaited hours.
A final draft of reform proposals will go before the exco meeting of on December 2 and 3 which must draw up an agenda for the emergency elective congress.
The exco must decide then which proposals to recommend to congress. It would be a diplomatic and public relations disaster if any of those recommendations were not then to obtain the three-quarters majority essential for a change to FIFA statutes.
In the summer Domenico Scala, the Swiss businessman who is independent chairman of the FIFA audit and compliance, drew up a comprehensive set of reform proposals.
Many of these appear to have been taken on board along with Scala’s proposal to replace the exco with a ‘FIFA Council’ to distance the ‘government’ from day-to-day executive decisions (such as the awarding of television rights, contracting of sponsors etc).
Scala then set his proposals before the reform committee which had been thrown together hastily under the chairmanship of Francois Carrard, the veteran Swiss lawyer and former director-general of the International Olympic Committee.
The committee’s credibility has been widely derided because it comprises two delegates from each of the six regional confederations which are considered to have contributed to FIFA’s problems rather than come up with solutions.
No exco term limits
Notable for its absence was any suggestion for term limits for members of whatever the restyled exco might eventually be called. Clearly the confederations’ delegates had no intention of watering down the length, depth and breadth of their own governing bodies’ status.
If the latest proposals sound promising events of the recent past will inevitably leave external critics doubtful of the outcome and questioning whether the 209 member associations will wave them through in February.
The introduction to the proposals also set a positive note, declaring: “FIFA’s leaders must recognise and accept that the errors of the past were real and they were unacceptable. Football fans and our commercial partners will no longer accept anything short of full transparency.”
However the raising of concepts such as “candour . . . respect . . . responsibility” will be judged to the extent that a new president turns words into actions.
ZURICH: At its extraordinary session in Zurich today, the FIFA Executive Committee approved a set of important measures to further strengthen its governance and increase the transparency of Ethics Committee proceedings while reiterating its commitment to necessary reforms already underway. The Executive Committee also confirmed 26 February 2016 as the date for the elective extraordinary congress.
The committee agreed to an important change to the rules governing investigations and decisions made by the independent Ethics Committee. Article 36 of FIFA’s Code of Ethics will be amended to allow the Ethics Committee, at its discretion, to publish more information about its ongoing proceedings. The independent chairmen of the committee’s two chambers, Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbély, had strongly advocated such an amendment, which will increase the transparency and understanding of their work.
Domenico Scala, in his capacity as chairman of the FIFA Ad-hoc Electoral Committee, provided information to the Executive Committee regarding the ongoing process for the FIFA presidential election. He explained that candidacies for the FIFA Presidency that are submitted in due time and form, but which relate to candidates who are subject to a (provisional or definite) ban from taking part in any football-related activity, will not be processed by the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee as long as such ban is valid and in force. The chairman also told the Executive Committee that, should such a ban be lifted or expire before the FIFA presidential election, scheduled for 26 February 2016, the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee would decide, depending on the respective exact point in time, on how to proceed with the candidacy concerned. Furthermore, Domenico Scala explained that the Appeal Committee Chairman Larry Mussenden has withdrawn from his position on the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee to avoid any appearance of a potential conflict of interest. Larry Mussenden’s deputy, Fernando Mitjans, will assume the role.
The Executive Committee also welcomed the preliminary recommendations developed by the 2016 FIFA Reform Committee and presented by its chairman, François Carrard, in an interim report. The Reform Committee will submit the final set of reform proposals to the FIFA Executive Committee at its next session in December 2015. The final proposals will be submitted to the FIFA Congress for consideration at the extraordinary congress in February 2016.
The Executive Committee stated its commitment to working on a roadmap to rebuild FIFA’s reputation and trust with a key focus on implementing the reforms. “I was pleased to see unity among the Executive Committee members during our discussions of reform and its critical importance to our organisation and world football. Increasing the transparency of ethics investigations is just one example of our firm commitment to change,” said Acting FIFA President Issa Hayatou. “It was also significant that we set the course for the upcoming presidential election.”
Other decisions taken by the Executive Committee included the following: