ZURICH: Five World Cup sponsors have given FIFA a timely reminder of the need for reform writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The world federation’s executive committee meets in Zurich later this week to consider which recommendations for governane change it should put before congress next February 26.

A reform committee under the chairmanship of veteran Swiss sports lawyer Francois Carrard has been studying proposals since September.

Earlier  a separate set of reform proposals had already been drawn up by Swiss businesman Domenico Scala, independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee.

These have been studied by Carrard’s committee but it will be up to the exco to decide which proposals can secure the necessary majority on the floor of congress for a change of statutes.

A letter of ‘encouragement’ has been submitted by World Cup sponsors Adidas, AB InBev (Budweiser), Coca-Cola Company, McDonald’s and Visa.

The latter four United States-based companies all coordinated a previous letter this autumn demanding the immediate departure of scandal-hit president Sepp Blatter – who was suspended subsequently by the ethics committee over allegations of misconduct in office.

Adidas addition

Intriguingly their latest letter is also signed by Adidas, the German sportswear company which been a FIFA partner – in one role or another – far longer than any of the rest.

Hyundai and Gazprom have remainded silent.

The letter says:

We all want to see FIFA effectively resume its mission of developing the great sport of football around the world. We know that you, the Executive Committee members, will soon be considering a list of reforms aimed at strengthening FIFA’s governance.

We urge you to embrace positive changes and also recognize that this is just one step toward creating a credible future for FIFA.

We want to emphasize to you the values and characteristics that we believe should be incorporated through the reforms. Transparency, accountability, respect for human rights, integrity, leadership and gender equality are crucial to the future of FIFA.

Reforms can set the proper framework for these characteristics, but a cultural change is also needed. The culture change has to begin within FIFA and filter through to the confederations and FIFA’s football associations.

We are aware of the positive work that the reform committee has been doing on governance reform but we still believe any reforms should be subject to independent oversight.

It has also become clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process.

We encourage you to become champions of this independent oversight as it will only enhance FIFA’s credibility.

Again, we want to stress that we are calling on you to embrace change, implement reforms, endorse a long-term independent oversight approach and initiate the cultural change because we all want to see football thrive.

The actions you take with this first round of reform proposals will set the tone for the full Congress to get behind the reform process.

FIFA’s US sponsors, in particular, are understood to have been concerned that they were not involved in the reform review after having been promised, initially, either slots on the committee or in a separate review body.