Tognoni: This will be a ′transitional′ FIFA Congress | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 22.02.2016
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Tognoni: This will be a 'transitional' FIFA Congress

Football's world governing body is mired in the worst crisis of its history. Prior to the Congress to elect Sepp Blatter's successor, former media director Guido Tognoni tells DW that only major reforms can save FIFA.

DW: Nine turbulent months have passed since the last FIFA Congress. What is the state of the world governing body now?

Guido Tognoni: FIFA is in a very difficult situation and it will take months, maybe even years for it to return to the stability that you would like to see from it.

Does Sepp Blatter still wield influence at FIFA?

He has lost a lot of influence, and you can sense that the mood has changed among FIFA employees. The Blatter era is over.

There is an awareness now that FIFA needs reforms, and the reform committee chaired by Francois Carrard has called for three main things; structural change, a new culture, and more transparency. Will this be enough to solve FIFA's problems?

It is the pressure of the situation that has forced action to be taken. Term limits are long overdue. Separating the commercial from the political side was discussed 15 years ago, but this was rejected by Sepp Blatter. These are trivial things. The solution won't come on paper, but can only be implemented by the people in power.

Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa of Bahrain, a person who has been accused of involvement in human rights abuses, is now seen as the favorite. Is he the right candidate?

Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa represents the rise of the Gulf states and it is possible that he will win the election. However, the pressure from outside is extremely high. This is the difference to the FIFA of yesterday. Governments, NGOS, and the Swiss justice system are all applying pressure, and the new president will have to yield to this. He won't be able to simply continue as before.

The Europeans have gotten behind UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino. He was originally just keeping the seat warm for Michel Platini. Is he the right man to reform FIFA? His big idea is that the World Cup finals should be expanded to 40 teams.

For a European candidate to suggest a 40-team World Cup is absurd. That would be bad for football. That is just fishing for votes.

Guido Tognoni FIFA-Kritiker im DW-Interview

Tognoni spoke to DW near the shore of Lake Zurich

Are the other three candidates just there to make up the numbers? Or could we be in for a surprise at the FIFA Congress?

I think we can pretty much rule out surprises. Tokyo Sexwale ran a completely anemic campaign. We don't know what his intentions are. Prince Ali won't get the 73 votes that he got last May. Those were mainly protest votes against Sepp Blatter. I worked with Jerome Champagne for a few years. He is definitely a good man, he knows FIFA inside out. He has a clear program. His big problem is that he has no power base; he doesn't have a bloc of votes.

Will the Congress in Zurich on February 26 be one that sets the tone for a new beginning or will it be like the last one, which was rendered useless by forces from outside?

I would describe this as a transitional Congress. It is an attempt by FIFA to move from a state of crisis back to normality. A new president will be elected. He needs a new general secretary. I think these two people deserve a certain amount of credit in the months that follow the election.

Guido Tognoni, 65, is a lawyer by trade. After working as a sports journalist, he spent 11 years as FIFA media director but was sacked by Sepp Blatter. Now he is one of FIFA's strongest critics. The interview was conducted by Herbert Schalling.

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