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Sports

Opinion: One foot on the brakes

The FIFA Executive Committee has unveiled a package of reforms meant to lead soccer's world governing body into a scandal-free future. DW sports editor Stefan Nestler is skeptical about its prospects for success.

Too much has gone wrong at FIFA to be able to say "wow, the reforms that are to be adopted at the FIFA congress at the end of February are a really big deal." As is the case with any package of reforms, we will only know how effective they will be once they have been implemented. On the other hand, for a retro-organization like FIFA, even just planning long overdue changes is a major step forward.

General secretariat upgraded

In future, a FIFA president is only to hold office for a maximum of 12 years, which, depending upon the president in question, may seem like a very long time. But it is still better than no limit at all. The all-powerful Executive Committee, which opened the door to corruption, is to be done away with.

The Committee is not only to be renamed (FIFA Council), but it is also to lose some of its powers. It will continue to decide the overall strategic direction of the world governing body, but the general secretariat is to take over the day-to-day running of the organization, with responsibility for its finances. Even FIFA's critics agree that it is there that the people sit, who keep the organization ticking over. If it weren't for these people, the house of cards that is FIFA would have probably come tumbling down amid the chaotic events of the last few months. So granting them more power makes good sense.

One foot on the brakes

However, the reform proposals still leave several questions unanswered. How to ensure that the FIFA commissions are really "independent" and that it is not actually the federation that is pulling the strings? Why is FIFA itself planning to carry out the compulsory integrity checks for members of the Council, a process that is to be monitored by an "independent committee," instead of passing on the entire process to an outside body? Why was the original plan to impose an age limit of 74 on senior officials scrapped? Such issues make it seem as if the Executive Committee, which had to sign off on the reforms, still has one foot on the brakes. And that's the crux of the problem.