Zurich- The election of a new FIFA president will go ahead as planned on February 26 despite the suspensions of current president Joseph Blatter and leading candidate Michel Platini, the executive committee of the ruling body decided Tuesday.
The committee confirmed the original date at an extraordinary meeting called in the wake of 90-day suspensions by the FIFA ethics committee in early October.
The executives also allowed the ethics committee to publish more information in an effort to boost transparency, and heard an interim report from the reform commission which included a complete overhaul of the executive's role within FIFA.
Keeping the date was believed to undermine Platini's ambitions for the FIFA top job, but FIFA opened a back door by saying that the mandatory integrity check for presidential candidates will be delayed in case of suspensions.
"Candidacies for the FIFA Presidency that are submitted in due time and form, but which relate to candidates who are subject to a (provisional or definite) ban from taking part in any football-related activity, will not be processed by the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee as long as such ban is valid and in force," FIFA said in a statement.
Platini submitted in his candidacy just ahead of the suspension and within the October 26 deadline.
Like Blatter, he has protested his innocence in connection with a "disloyal payment" payment" of $2.1 million dollars Blatter paid to Platini in 2011 and which is probed by Swiss prosecutors.
Both have said that the agreement was not written down but rather an oral "gentleman's agreement."
The FIFA appeals committee is expected to make a quick ruling on Platini's appeal and he has said he would also go before the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary.
Blatter and Platini, absent on Tuesday because of the ethics committee ruling, are suspended until January 6. The ethics committee could extend the ban by 45 days until February 20, just six days before the extraordinary congress to elect the new president.
Other candidates who have handed in their bid with the required support from five FIFA member federations are Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al Hussein (who lost the May 29 vote against Blatter) and former player David Nakhid of Trinidad and Tobago.
There has been speculation about South African Tokyo Sexwale, and even more about Bahrain's Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, the head of the Asian confederation AFC.
The BBC reported Tuesday that Shaikh Salman has written a letter to the AFC executives saying he has been approached by growing number of officials about a bid but said he is no candidate yet.
Human rights organizations have criticised a possible bid by Shaikh Salman as he, a member of Bahrain's ruling family, was allegedly involved in the crackdown on the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011 by identifying athletes.
The executive committee Tuesday allowed the ethics committee "to publish more information about its ongoing proceedings" and "at its discretion" for more transparency.
The issue has been pressed by the chairmen of both ethics committee chambers, Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely.
It also heard an interim report from the reform committee headed by former Olympian Francois Carrard which proposes wide-ranging changes in governance in the wake of various corruption affairs.
They include an age limit of 74 for executives, limiting presidential tenures to a maximum 12 years and publishing of annual compensations for top officials such as the president and executives.
In addition, the executive committee is to lose its wide-range powers in a major change of its role.
"The Executive Committee of FIFA should oversee strategic matters and have a supervisory role over standing committees and FIFA administration. It should not have executive powers over policies of FIFA," the interim report said.
"To reflect its more appropriate function, the name of the committee should be changed to the 'FIFA Council.'"
The final report is set to go before the executive committee at its December 2-3 meeting in Zurich and, if approved, before the February congress.