Soccer

FIFA set for massive overhaul

2011-10-19 17:50
Sepp Blatter (File)

Zurich - World football supremo Sepp Blatter appears set for a wide-ranging reform of FIFA, similar to that the International Olympic Committee underwent, in an effort to overcome its biggest identity crisis over corruption allegations.

The FIFA executive committee meets on Thursday and Friday for the first time since Blatter was elected president for a fourth term in June, and Blatter has apparently realised that change must come.

"I have felt a wild determination within FIFA to make changes. I am very optimistic. I have the feeling that Mr Blatter is serious," Sylvia Schenk, a board member of the Transparancy International group which has worked with FIFA in recent months, told dpa.

"I think he has realised that either we do something or are under fire for months," said Schenk who met the 75-year-old Blatter three times.

Blatter pledged reform towards the end of his presidential campaign after major corruption allegations around the World Cup host elections for 2018 and 2022 severely tainted FIFA's reputation.

Things got even worse in spring when Blatter's original opponent for the top job, Mohamed bin Hammam, was kicked out of FIFA because he allegedly gave cash to officials from the Americas in order to win votes.

Local top official Jack Warner, like Bin Hammam also a FIFA vice-president, resigned, and others were punished as well.

It is not out the question that Blatter's clean-up will have similar dimensions as that of the IOC over the Salt Lake City bribes- for-votes scandal which broke in the late 1990s.

IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch put himself atop the reform movement as allegedly corrupt IOC members were kicked out, membership in the elite body limited, IOC members prohibited visiting bidding cities and the whole organisation made more transparent.

Blatter may be on a similar course, especially if he really gets the executive committee to nod off a release and publication of court documents in connection with the bankruptcy of sports rights company ISL - a plan he has according to the BBC.

Such a move could have huge repercussions because it could lead to the fall of prominent FIFA top officials suspected of having been bribed by ISL.

FIFA has up to now blocked vetoed every attempt to publish the documents which allegedly implicate Brazilian football boss and Ricardo Teixeira, South American football supremo Nicolas Leoz of Peru and African confederation chief Issa Hayatou.

"I really hope that this will be one of the issues. That would be a huge step into the right direction," said Schenk.

A trial revealed that ISL reportedly paid 138 million Swiss franks (153.4 million dollars) to top officials from FIFA, the IOC and other federations between 1989 and 2001 in order to land lucrative sports rights. The case ended in a settelement under which the suspects remained anonymous.

The executive committee meets on Thursday and Friday behind closed doors before Blatter meets the press later on Friday to announce what could be a revolution within FIFA.

Read more on:    fifa scandal  |  sepp blatter
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