FIFA Congress yields racism reform, transparency tiff | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 31.05.2013
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FIFA Congress yields racism reform, transparency tiff

FIFA's annual Congress has yielded a number of reforms, including new anti-racism rules and the election of the first woman to FIFA's executive. A call was also made for FIFA President Sepp Blatter to reveal his salary.

Fussball 63. FIFA Kongress auf Mauritius 2013 30.05.2013 FIFA Praesident Joseph S. Blatter (Schweiz) eroeffnet den Kongress FOTO: Pressefoto ULMER/Markus Ulmer xxNOxMODELxRELEASExx

Sepp Blatter 63. FIFA Kongress Mauritius

At the end of FIFA's annual Congress - held this year in Port Louis, Mauritius - FIFA has drawn both praise for what it accomplished and criticism for what was left off the agenda.

In his speech to the Congress on Friday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter (pictured above) lauded the changes that had been made in world soccer's governing body, after it set out two years ago on a mission to clean house and instigate reform.

"I am happy to say that FIFA has weathered the storm. We have emerged from troubled waters," Blatter said.

Initiatives to make FIFA more transparent have been high priorities for Blatter in recent years, and his comments reflected an apparent sense of achievement. The measures passed included a decision to turn the job of selecting future World Cup host nations over to the full FIFA Congress. In the past, only the executive committee has selected the host nation in secret ballots, which has led to plenty of allegations of corruption in the past. Future FIFA officers will also be subject to an integrity check.

Calling out Blatter

But Swiss professor Mark Pieth - the head advisor to FIFA for implementing reform - stopped short of saying FIFA's reform efforts were complete.

He said FIFA's leadership needs to show commitment that "they really want to go down the road to reform."

"A worldwide sports governing body like FIFA has similarities to an inter-governmental organisation and transparency is a key requirement," he said in a speech to the Congress of 200-plus members. "A remaining issue is transparency in the remuneration of key officials. These did not come overnight with major institutions but here FIFA needs to catch up."

"I would like to invite the president and members of the executive committee to take this step. It would send a crucial message to their constituencies and to the public at large that they have nothing to hide."

The long-debated issue of term and age limits was put off until next year, drawing the ire of many in the world of football who feel the issue has dragged on for long enough. Blatter is 77 and has been criticised for dodging the issue with an eye on running for re-election in 2015, despite statements he would not run.

Silver lining

Despite the continued stalemates on certain issues at FIFA, two reforms in particular were welcomed at the Congress. One was the adaptation of much stricter measures in FIFA's ethics code to combat racism in football.

The sanctions adopted in the resolution include fines for a first or minor infraction by a team or the playing of games behind closed doors. The possible sanctions increase to point deductions, exclusion from a competition or relegation for more serious or repeat offences.

Players found guilty of racist behaviour are to receive suspensions of at least five matches, which would include a ban on the offender from even entering a soccer stadium.

The other major development at the FIFA Congress was the nomination of the first woman to FIFA's executive council, the powerful board at the top of the organization. Lydia Nsekera of Burundi, who heads the Burundi Football Association and is a member of the International Olympic Committee, had been co-opted onto the board a year ago and has now been elected to a four-year term.

mz/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters)