ZURICH: A strengthening of the fight against corruption inside and outside FIFA and a polite request for the law-making International Board to reform itself were the two most decisive points with which president Sepp Blatter emerged today from his executive committee’s consideration of the world federation’s reform process writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Most everything else, to judge from Blatter’s detail-encrusted media conference, will remain work in progress which will satisfy a number of exco members from both South  America and Europe.

The situation of the International Board is a delicate one. Its composition is four representatives from each of the British associations and four from FIFA, which has thus attracted criticism from those suspicious of so-called ‘British privileges.’ Any move towards “greater democracy and transparency” – Blatter’s words – must mean an inevitable dilution of British influence.

At least the process continues to move forward even though at a much slower pace than Blatter had hoped when he promised to “steer the ship into calmer waters” at Congress in Zurich last year.

The so-called Independent Governance Committee headed by Basel University specialist Mark Pieth also echoed more than 18 months’ criticism in the international media about the inadequacy of FIFA’s present ethics ‘policing’ system.

It described FIFA’s response to complaints of corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process as “not fully satisfactory” and criticised sanctions imposed on culprits as  “ insufficient and clearly unconvincing”.

Reform roadmap

Reform decisions taken by the executive committee included:

1, a new structure for the Ethics Committee with two chambers (investigatory and adjudicatory)

2, scrutinising of candidates for FIFA office by the Ethics Committee (not by a nominations committee as Pieth had proposed)

3, expanding the scope of responsibility of the Audit Committee by adding Compliance to its activities

4, appointment by the 2012 Congress of independent chairmen for the Ethics Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee

5, co-optation of a token woman onto the FIFA executive committee at the 2012 FIFA Congress with a formal election in 2013

6, FIFA membership for a new federation permitted directly, and not after a period of two years,  if an association is already a member of its confederation (meaning South Sudan will be member No 209)

7, inclusion in FIFA Statutes from 2013 that the World Cup host should be chosen (as in the ‘old’ days) by Congress from a shortlist submitted by the exco

8, Self-reform of the International Football Association Board

9, presentation of a draft statutes revision to be discussed by Congress (including, presunabl,y the British vice-presidency).

Other exco decisions

FIFA’s exco approved the 2011 Financial Report, with a positive surplus of $36m (revenue $1,070m and expenditure of $1,034m): 75pc  the expenses were spent on FIFA events and football development projects. The exco  also approved the 2013 FIFA expenses budget ($994m).

Also approved was the institution, from September 1, of worldwide player insurance for all players involved in all senior national team games listed in the international match calendar (provisional budget $100m).

Proposals previously agreed with UEFA and other bodies for the 2014-18 international calendar were approved as well as cooling breaks in FIFA competition matches in hot and humid conditions (over 31/32°C) have been approved.

The exco meeting was attended by new CONMEBOL member Marco del Nero (Brazil) as well as by CONCACAF’s Jeffrey Webb (Cayman Islands), ahead of his formal appointment expected in May.

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