KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- FIFA’s orginal reform guru, Mark Pieth, has urged Europe’s most powerful football nations, England in particular, to step up to the plate in rescuing the world federation from itself.
The Basel criminologist headed FIFA’s independent governance committee between 2011 and 2013 when his contract ended and he had to quit with the job not even half done.
Pieth blamed the six regional confederations and Europe’s UEFA in particular for obstructing his proposals for measures such as independent directors and remuneration transparency.
In the two years since Pieth’s departure FIFA’s battered image has been ripped to shreds by the multiple arrest of senior figures in the United States’ FIFAGate corruption inquiry as well as by the banning for eight years for financial misconduct of both president Sepp Blatter and UEFA head Michel Platini.
A new president must be elected at a congress next February 26 which will also vote on a raft of resurrected reform proposals. But 62-year-old Pieth is not optimistic, judging by his comments in an interview with the German magazine Kicker.
Reviewing how Blatter let the move to reform stall, Pieth said: “We had hoped to push through reforms much faster. Obviously this was not possible. A change of heart had not been achieved so now it has become much harder.
“As far as Blatter is concerned . . . You know the Sun King Louis XIV, who said: ‘I am the state’? This was the same mentality: a dictator who believes himself above the law.”
Pieth was not enthusiastic about any of the five presidential candidates.
He noted the human rights allegations continuing to hover over Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, pondered how Tokyo Sexwale had transformed from apartheid prisoner to millionaire businessman in such a short time and questioned the strength and ‘royal house’ background of Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.
As for Europeans Gianni Infantino and Jerome Champagne, Pieth considered them as “coming from the old system where they operated in the background.”
If FIFA were to be rescued then it was up to a powerful, respected national association such as England’s Football Association to lead the way because Europe’s other leading federations all had their own problems.
Pieth said: “[Hope] must come out of strong football nations such as England. In Germany, they still need to clarify who leads the federation [after the enforced exit of Wolfgang Niersbach]; you cannot count on the Spaniards; and even the role of the French is unclear.
“The Arabs are taking advantage of the weakness of UEFA, they have a lot of money and they are taking central roles. Also, they are not been leading calls for the reform of FIFA.”
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