GENEVA: European federation UEFA has seized on claims that a FIFA report was ‘doctored’ to water down criticism of president Sepp Blatter to attack the world federation’s stalled reform process.
German magazine Der Spiegel alleged at the weekend that FIFA officials led by legal adviser Marco Villiger ‘refined’ references to Blatter in a draft report presented last year by the Basel governance expert, Mark Pieth at the conclusion of his work.
Pieth’s original draft criticised not only Blatter over his knowledge of the ISL scandal but complained that UEFA had blocked critical proposals for reform of the world federation.
These included, notably, a proposal on term-of-office limits. Pieth wanted term limits across the board, UEFA counter-proposed ‘only’ two terms for the FIFA president. Predictably, the entire issue was kicked into touch by FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo last June.
Pieth had worked with what was officially entitled an Independence Governance Committee but whose composition was compromised by the inclusion of the head of a FIFA commercial partner (Amaury group) and the president of a major national association (United States).
Pedro Pinto, the former CNN sports reporter who is now media adviser to UEFA president Michel Platini, took up the opportunity offered by the Der Spiegel report to attack not only FIFA but Pieth and the integrity of the reform process.
Pinto, via Twitter, said: “The latest revelations regarding the Pieth report show that FIFA’s Independent Governance Committee was anything but independent. UEFA has always wondered why it was criticised by Mr Pieth and wrongly accused of blocking FIFA reforms. Now we understand why and where it all came from.”
UEFA member associations are among the nominees supporting Prince Ali of Jordan, Michael Van Praag and Luis Figo in their challenge to incumbent Sepp Blatter in the forthcoming FIFA presidential election.