A supposed secret document chronicling the proposed radical rejig inside the corporation scandal-hit FIFA has been leaked. According to the declassified document, the proposed reform of world’s football governing body is expected to feature the abolition of FIFA powerful executive committee and creating a dual power structure for checks and balances.

The reform blue-print produced by  FIFA’s independent Audit and Compliance Committee headed by Domenico Scala, also recommends setting up a management committee including independent professionals charged with ensuring FIFA’s day-to-day running, and a governing council playing more of an oversight role.

The governing council, which would have a lot less power than the executive committee, would be elected by FIFA’s Congress, which consists of representatives from its 209 member associations around the world.

The reform template also includes the introduction of term limits for all elected officials in FIFA. They would be limited to a maximum of three four-year-terms and FIFA would also then demand that national football associations and confederations bring in the same limits – effectively spreading the practise to other levels of the game’s governance, according to the source. Previous proposals had only included term limits for the president.

Although FIFA does not have the power to force its member associations to introduce their own term limits, the plan envisages changing FIFA’s rules to ensure that only associations with term-limits are able to have individuals elected to FIFA’s bodies.

Pressure to Reform

FIFA has come under unprecedented pressure to reform itself since the US and Swiss authorities cracked-down on the institution in late May, resulting in arrest and prosecution of nine current and former football officials on bribery-related charges. Many of the indicted officials in the corruption scandal had served on the executive committee or in other FIFA positions.

But the proposed reforms are likely to face huge resistance from many within FIFA and from six regional football confederations, who currently wield a lot of influence because they nominate members of the executive committee. The new structure would remove the direct link between the continental confederations and FIFA’s power structure.

A new Reform Committee, headed by former International Olympic Committee director general Francois Carrard, could take a different view, and although Scala is supposed to be overseeing its efforts he isn’t in a position to control it.

Also the outcome of the February 26, 2016 vote to elect a new president to replace Blatter will likely have an impact on any proposals for major structural change.

Studying the blueprint

The reform blueprint of the Scala-led panel presented to FIFA executive committee at its meeting in Zurich on July 20 is already under serious study, a source monitoring the development disclosed. With the Swiss businessman, whom Blatter charged with implementing reforms, also heading FIFA’s ad-hoc election committee for the February 2016 presidential election, there are still optimism the radical reform may survive. FIFA, it would be recalled, issued a statement after the July 20 meeting, acknowledging that it had received the plans for term limits and “higher standards of governance at all levels of football structures including confederations and member associations, as well as individual disclosure of compensation.”

FIFA statement further acknowledged that its “members welcomed the presentation on reforms delivered by Domenico Scala … the Executive Committee, supported by the confederations, reiterated its unity and stated its firm commitment to reform.”

The executive committee has already lost some of its previous power as recent reforms took away its ability to determine who hosts the World Cup that is held every four years, giving it to the full Congress instead. The executive committee’s last such decisions – the granting of the rights to hold the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 competition to Qatar – are currently the subject of a separate investigation by the Swiss authorities into alleged corruption in FIFA.

FIFA’s new 15-member Reform Committee is due to meet in mid-September and the organisation has said that the body will be “overseen” by Scala’s Audit and Compliance Committee and FIFA’s Ethics Committee.

By Olisemeka Obeche (with agency reports)


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