PORT LOUIS: Leading European football officials took to the floor at FIFA Congress to express their irritation at the failure to reach a decision on age and term limits writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
National associations and confederations and then the FIFA executive committee had all failed to reach a consensus on the issues which were considered as of symbolically important by reformers.
That angered UEFA whose members – and not only European members – appeared to abstain en block. A proposal to defer a decision until next year was carried by 123 votes to 16 with 68 abstentions. UEFA had 53 voting members present.
On the eve of congress UEFA president Michel Platini had indicated that he believed delaying the issue was a political manoeuvre by Sepp Blatter who is considering standing again for president in 2015 – when he will be 79.
Wolfgang Niersbach, president of the German federation and a newly-elected member the UEFA executive, spoke forcibly on behalf of Europe of his disappoint. FIFA had missed a chance to send an important signal to the wider world about its will for reform.
He said: “We understand that the process of reform is on track . . . but I feel it is regrettable that, before this congress, it was not possible to elaborate a proposal on term of mandate and age limit.
“Also I regret this fact because, for the public at large, this would have been a good signal [especially] because it had been announced as the final decision of this first package of the process.
“A much stronger signal would have been sent out for the image of FIFA.”
Niersbach pointed out that decisions taken within the executibve committee had resonance far beyond the world football federation’s headquarters in Switzerland.
He said: “FIFA is all of us. We all are FIFA, not only excecutive committee in Zurich alone, and I wish one could have reached agreement today.”
Niersbach’s elegantly-expressed views were endorsed by Danish federation president Allan Hansen who said it was essential for football’s administrative health to ensure younger leaders had room and space in which to progress.