KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: FIFA president Sepp Blatter raised polite eyebrows at UEFA congress here today by urging the European federation to follow the world federation’s lead on reform.

This may have come as a surprise to those in the European governing body who believe the world federation has set the wrong sort of leadership example over the last scandal-enshrouded years.

However Blatter, in a keynote speech, talked up the progress made by the reform process in which only “one or two points” needed to be addressed.

He said: “We have had some problems inside FIFA, starting in 2010, and in 2011 we had not only the idea but the will for reform.

Women’s role

“We are not yet finished but we are nearby and we need your help because in the next congress in Mauritius next week we will finish this part of our reform.

“We are missing one or two points . . . but we have already installed the famous ethics committee, the audit and compliance committee and we have given a little bit more place to women’s football in our executive committee.”

Then he told delegates from the 53 European associations: “It only works if you, in your associations and UEFA organisation, will have the same committees or commissions. If not it is impossible for FIFA to be in control of everything.”

Blatter praised UEFA for its strengths but cautioned that it needed to be aware of the responsibility that “those who have more should share with those who have less: this is the principle of our game in the development programmes.”

Shared objectives

These comments may be seen, in Africa and Asia, as following up his recent suggestion that Europe should consider giving up one or two slots at the World Cup finals for the sake of “solidarity.”

Certainly Blatter considered that the “devils in our society” –  cheating, corruption, doping and racism – were issues which demanded a unified attack.

He congratulated UEFA on stepping up its reaction to racism and noted that FIFA would be adopting its own new measures at its own congress next week.

“We cannot change the world,” concluded Blatter, “but we can prepare a better future for the game.”

Earlier a formal welcome to London had been issued to UEFA, its delegates and guests by the Duke of Cambridge in his role as president of the Football Association, followed by its outgoing chairman David Bernstein.


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