FIFA’s ethics chief on Thursday fired the opening salvo in the campaign to reform the scandal-tainted world governing body of soccer, calling for its president to serve a maximum of three terms.
Term limits, disclosing the salaries of FIFA presidents and executive members, a clearer organization of football’s world governing body and a clampdown on regional soccer barons were all included in a report released by Domenico Scala, chairman of the FIFA independent audit and compliance committee.
With the organization still reeling from the arrest of seven FIFA officials among 14 people facing bribery and money laundering charges in the United States, Scala said “additional reforms now are essential for the future of the organization.”
But he said the various regional blocs on the all-powerful executive committee had to put aside their own interests to get acceptable change passed.
Reforms are to be voted on by a special FIFA Congress on feb. 26 when a successor to longstanding president Sepp Blatter is to be elected. The final version of the proposed reforms will be offered by a task force led by former International Olympic Committee director general Francois Carrard.
Scala’s eight-point plan includes tougher integrity checks on FIFA members, the term limits, the direct election of executive committee members by the congress, disclosure of FIFA and other soccer earnings by all top officials and changes to the structure of FIFA and its committees.
Scala highlighted FIFA’s success in becoming an organization with revenues of $5 billion every four years.
“Now rapid growth leads to management problems, structures need to follow, you need to improve your checks and balances. You create inherent conflicts of interest and all these of course have affected FIFA.”
Top members of the North and Central American confederation CONCACAF and the South American group CONMEBOL were among seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich in May as part of the U.S. inquiry.
U.S. investigators allege that more than $150 million were paid in bribes for television and marketing deals. Scala said FIFA had already been improved but took particular aim at the regional confederations who make up the executive committee.
“FIFA has a significant reputation risk for misconduct which is happening out of its direct control, as has been the case in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, and therefore to protect itself it needs to demand higher standards of governance at these entities,” he said.
“The misconduct has been because certain individuals have dual, triple heads, they stay for too long in their functions and the governance and checks and balances structures in which they operate are insufficient. These are things we need to tackle,” he said.
His proposals include the tougher “integrity checks” and term limits for the leaders of regional confederations. While FIFA cannot dictate the rules of the powerful six confederations, he said change could “be achieved by introducing a pre-condition of eligiblility at the level of FIFA.”
And while confederations would nominate their executive members, there would still have to be an election at the full congress, under Scala’s plan.
Scala called the executive committee “one of the most problematic hotspots within the FIFA organization and structure.”
He called on the regional blocs “to neglect the ‘Confederation perspective’ in discussions and resolutions on the reforms that have become necessary and focus stronger on the interests and well-being of FIFA as a whole than has been the case to date.”
The executive is to discuss reforms at a meeting in December.
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