FIFA has unveiled a package of reforms aimed at restoring credibility to football's world governing body. This came just hours after two more of its senior officials were arrested on corruption allegations.
The reforms unveiled by FIFA's Executive Committee in a press conference at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich include term limits for the organization's president, increased representation for women, as well as major structural changes.
At the same time, the Executive Committee delayed a decision on a proposal to expand the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams.
"These reforms are moving FIFA towards improved governance, greater transparency and more accountability," FIFA's acting president, Issa Hayatou (pictured above) told reporters at the start of the press conference. "They mark a milestone on our path towards restoring FIFA's credibility as a modern, trusted and professional sports organization."
If adopted, the reforms would ensure that all of the world governing body's future presidents will be allowed to serve for no longer than three four-year terms. This term limit would also apply to all members of the FIFA Council, which is to replace the Executive Committee, as well as the Audit and Compliance Councils.
The Executive Committee has also proposed separating political from management functions as part of the new structure. The FIFA Council, which is meant to have less power than the Executive Committee, is to be responsible for setting the overall strategic direction of the organization, while the secretary general is to be tasked with ensuring that such decisions are implemented.
The president and all members of the Council are to be subject to integrity checks carried out by a new FIFA Review Committee before they can take office.
There are also proposals aimed at increasing the role of women in FIFA, including one that would stipulate that there would be at least one female representative from each of the six continental federations on the 36-member FIFA Council.
The proposals are to be put to the FIFA Congress on February 26, when a successor to FIFA President Sepp Blatter is to be elected. The Congress has the power to pass or reject the proposals, or to make changes to them.
The reform plans were unveiled just hours after the latest arrests in FIFA's ongoing corruption scandal. Acting on behalf of US authorities, Swiss police on Thursday morning arrested two FIFA officials from the Americas who were in Zurich to attend the Executive Committee meeting. Both are suspected of taking millions of dollars in bribes linked to television rights.
This was just the latest development in a series of widening corruption investigations surrounding FIFA. In October, FIFA handed down a provisional 90-day ban on Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini over corruption allegations. Due to their bans, neither was allowed to attend the Executive Committee meeting.
pfd/rd (SID, dpa, AFP, Reuters)