FIFA proposes changes to its ethics committee after 2011 corruption scandals
Independent report criticizes 'unsatisfactory' response to allegations of wrongdoing
FIFA president Sepp Blatter hails 'historic' reforms
FIFA critic Grant Wahl wanted probe into 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process
FIFA pledged Friday to reform its governance structure after the corruption scandals which rocked football’s world governing body last year.
Proposed changes to its ethics committee, which will be split into two entities, one to investigate allegations and another to rule on them, were hailed as “historic” by FIFA president Sepp Blatter after being approved by the executive committee.
They will still need to be endorsed by FIFA’s 2012 Congress in Budapest, Hungary in May.
FIFA was responding to a report of the Independent Governance Committee (IGC), chaired by Swiss professor Mark Pieth and made public Friday.
It was commissioned after Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam was banned from the game for life after being found guilty of corruption for trying to buy votes in the FIFA presidential election with $40,000 cash inducements to Caribbean football officials.
The bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively won by Russia and Qatar, also came under scrutiny after allegations of improper conduct.
Pieth and the eight-strong ICG group branded as “unsatisfactory” FIFA’s past handling of the corruption allegations.
“Existing procedures are insufficient to meet the challenges of a major global sport governing body,” the ICG found.
It went on “This has led to unsatisfactory reactions to persistent allegations.
“In some instances, allegations were insufficiently investigated and where sanctions were imposed, they are at times insufficient and clearly unconvincing.”
Blatter told a press conference in Zurich Friday that his organization recognized the need for change.
“The executive committee unanimously agreed to this new approach in our efforts for more transparency and integrity,” he said.
“The new ethics committee will have the possibility to initiate investigation in the case of credible allegations.”
But Grant Wahl, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, who unsuccessfully tried to challenge Blatter in the FIFA presidential elections last year, told CNN that while the 76-year-old Swiss remained at the helm there would be doubts about the implementation of the proposed changes.
“Sepp Blatter came to power 14 years ago through an election where he had the support of executive members who are now disgraced so he has very little credibility in preaching for reform,” he said.
Wahl was also disappointed that the ICG had stopped short of calling for further investigation into the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host countries.
“My big concern is that there is no recommendation to do a forensic investigation into 2018 and 2022 bidding process because it was clearly not satisfactory in many people’s eyes,” he said.
Wahl also doubted FIFA would implement the ICG recommendation to limit the terms of FIFA president and executive committee members to two terms of four years.
“Term limits are a really important change, it would keep some of these dinosaurs from sitting on the committee for years and years,” he said.
FIFA also agreed Friday to co-opt its entire executive committee onto the organizing body of the 2014 World Cup after concerns that preparations in Brazil have fallen behind schedule.
2010 World Cup chief South African Danny Jordaan has also been named as an adviser along with Alexei Sorokin, who is overseeing the 2018 tournament in Russia.
A FIFA statement said: “To underline the significance of the FIFA World Cup for world football’s governing body, the complete FIFA executive committee is now, for the first time, part of this decision-making forum which is responsible for monitoring and organizing each edition of FIFA’s flagship event.”