ZURICH, (Reuters) – FIFA, stung by a string of corruption cases, approved plans to give its ethics committee more bite today although further reforms suggested by a independent governance expert were put on hold.
FIFA’s executive approved plans to split the ethics committee, which looks into wrongdoing by officials, into separate divisions with one to investigate cases and one to judge them.
It also gave the thumbs-up to a proposal that candidates for certain positions within FIFA should be vetted.
However, FIFA said in a statement that other issues would be “further discussed according to the roadmap”, possibly after this year’s annual Congress in Budapest in May.
These included the composition of the executive committee, the extra representation given to British associations and the controversial bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.
A decision on limiting the president’s mandate to two four-year terms and the same for executive committee members will also have to wait.
Blatter hailed the two approved measures, which will be put to the FIFA Congress to be rubber-stamped, as “an historic day for FIFA’s reform process”.
“I can say that the executive committee unanimously agreed to this new approach in our efforts for more transparency, integrity and also how to fight against all the devils which are in our society, and also touches our games,” he added.
Blatter said reform of the ethics committee was one of the main points made by Mark Pieth, a professor from the Swiss-based Institute of Governance who heads a 13-member panel created last year to oversee changes in the way Swiss-based FIFA is run.
Pieth produced a report strongly critical of the way FIFA has handled past corruption cases, including former presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam being banned for life and two executive committee members being punished in cash for votes scandals.
“Clearly, the existing procedures are insufficient to meet the challenges of a major global sport governing body. This has led to unsatisfactory reactions to persistent allegations,” the report said.
“In some instances, allegations were insufficiently investigated and where sanctions were imposed, they are at times insufficient and clearly unconvincing.
The report added: “It is fundamental that nominees for senior FIFA positions are vetted by an independent nominations committee, to be put in place as soon as possible, in order to ensure that candidates for the next elections fulfill the necessary substantive criteria and ethical requirements and that the selection process is fair and transparent.”
Pieth also said that FIFA needs to urgently streamline its procedures on the hosting of competitions, on marketing decisions and the way money is distributed for FIFA’s development programmes.
“All requests for development funds and the relating decisions should be properly documented. The use of funds should be tightly controlled and publicly disclosed,” the report said.