ZURICH: FIFA has decided to seek a personality from outside football to lead its reform task force after Domenico Scala had second thoughts about taking up the incendiary role, as had been proposed by outgoing president Sepp Blatter writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The Swiss businessman was brought into the world football federation two years ago as chairman of the audit and compliance committee with a remit providing the freedom to roam in and out of any and every department up to and including the president’s office.

Much of what he found did not impress him and he warned, only this past May at Congress, that FIFA was in need of a massive culture change.

Blatter and several leaders of the six regional confederations had hoped that Scala would take up the poisoned chalice of leading the resurrected reform process being demanded ever more loudly by sponsors.

However it is now understand he has turned down the role, partly out of a concern that he would not enjoy full power to force through change. Also he has understood he would be risking his own personal and professional reputation within the maelstrom of scandal and controversy battering the organisation.

A spokesman said: “Domenico Scala never applied for such a chairmanship. He would consider to chair such a task force, only under the strict condition that independence was guaranteed.”

Later FIFA issued a statement insisting that the reforms task force “should be chaired by an independent person from outside of the world of football.”

The 10 members of the task force are to be proposed by the confederations and its work will be supervised by the Scala’s audit and compliance committee as well as by the disciplinary and ethics committee.

Speed is of the essence for Blatter in trying to present, belatedly, a reformist face to the world outside Zurich. This was the reason Scala was suggested for the reform leadership role because he understands the brief.

Any independent outsider will need to invest significant time in studying the challenge before even committing to the work and reputational risk.

FIFA will host a summit meeting next month of its major sponsors – such as critical Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonald’s – as well as other commercial partners to reassure them about meaningful change ahead.

Blatter is standing down as president with a successor due to be chosen at an extraordinary elective congress next February 26.

His stated wish to try to push through reforms on issues such as term limits and remuneration transparency has been the subject of scepticism from critics who question his right to dictate terms to his successor.

Michel Platini, French president of European federationUEFA, is considered the front-runner after recent discussions with influential Asian region figures such as new exco member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah from Kuwait and former FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon of South Korea.

Chung has been considering whether to stand for the presidency himself even though he has been ‘out of the loop’ for the past four years.