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FIFA congress: rocked by controversy, but set to go ahead

For the moment, this year's FIFA congress is still set to kick off as planned on Thursday evening in Zurich. On the agenda are a host of issues, but it's possible that the focus of the meeting could change.

When celebrations kick in at the start of this year's FIFA congress in the Stadionhalle in Zurich on Thursday, there will likely be dancers girating, flags on show and plenty of music. But, not all will be merry at football's governing body.

The organization responsible for European football, UEFA, has already said that it thinks that the congress should be postponed.

"We strongly believe the FIFA Congress should be postponed with new FIFA presidential elections to be organized within the next six months," Gianni Infantino told reporters in Warsaw on Wednesday.

"The upcoming FIFA Congress risks turning into a farce," he added.

The UEFA representatives have confirmed they will not actually boycott the meeting altogether. After all, if they did, that would have probably have only given Sepp Blatter an even bigger advantage in the vote for president.

Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter often uses the FIFA congresses to put forward his views

Business as usual

For the moment though, FIFA is trying to put on a brave face. The head of the organization's communications department Walter de Gregorio made it clear on Tuesday that the meeting - and the vote for a new president - would be going ahead despite the recent arrests of high-ranking FIFA officials.

"One thing doesn't have anything to do with the other," De Gregorio said.

After the festivities end on Thursday, the real business begins on Friday morning local time, with the most important item on the agenda clearly being the vote off for a new president of football's governing body. That's one of the last things due to be discussed though.

Item 15 on the agenda - a political powderkeg - is Palestine's application to suspend Israel from FIFA. The Palestinian association (the PFA) says Israel should stop mistreating and arresting Palestinian footballers and must guarantee Palestinian players and their foreign guests freedom of movement in the region.

Otherwise, the 209 members of FIFA are set to discuss issues as diverse as FIFA's world football museum, the organization's peace initiative and its efforts to fight racism and discrimination.

Flash-Galerie Zürich Stadt mit Fluss Limmat

Zurich, the home of FIFA, plays host to the event this year

Time to change the agenda?

Whether a huge amount of time can be devoted at the meeting to the corruption allegations leveled against FIFA - and new measures to fight it - seems doubtful.

"It obviously depends on FIFA's constitution," says German lawyer Elmar Lumer, an expert for associations law.

"Generally, topics can be brought onto an agenda last minute, if they are important enough. But, it's unlikely that it would be possible to vote on the issues raised," Lumer said.

If European participants know this then the meeting could end up being quite a scene. Reinhard Rauball, the head of the German Football League organization, has already said that it would be "the wrong signal" for FIFA to return to business as usual at the FIFA congress.

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