Have guts, do the right thing and back reforms, Pieth urges FIFA Congress

Friday, 25 May 2012
By Andrew Warshaw in Budapest

Mark Pieth_May_25May 25 - The first wave of reforms to clean up FIFA were ratified as expected today with the man who drew them up pleading with world football's governing body not to return to the ills of the past.

Swiss professor Mark Pieth (pictured above), head of FIFA's Independence Governance Committee that came up with a string of recommendations after the worst period of scandal in the organisation's history, urged delegates not to pass up the opportunity to enter a fresh era of transparency.

"I encourage you to make use of this singular chance you have to go down the reform route," Pieth told the FIFA Congress in Budapest halfway through the so-called two-year road map to reform after FIFA had been brought to its knees.

"This is crucial, make it real and you could make a real difference.

"Do something really courageous and generations of footballers and fans and stakeholders will thank you.

"If you do not act, you will have wasted a brilliant opportunity."

Pieth wants independent members on FIFA's Executive Committee to make their salaries public and to limit terms of office and age limits.

These will not be voted on for another year, but reforms that were passed today included: splitting the Ethics Committee into an investigative arm and a sanctioning arm with independent chairmen; appointing a woman on to FIFA's Executive Committee – Burundi FA President Lydia Nsekera; and appointing Swiss businessman Domenico Scala as independent chairman of the new audit and Compliance Committee.

Pieth appealed to the Congress not just to pick out the reforms which suited them.

"Please abstain from cherry-picking out of this menu," he said.

"I'm not saying you have to do everything, but these things are linked."

Sepp Blatter_May_25
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (pictured above, right), whilst heralding in a new phase for FIFA after 108 years, was not entirely happy with Pieth's use of language, however, countering: "Even if Professor Pieth will say we shall not cherry-pick, we cannot take the whole tree.

"It is impossible to take the tree and take all the cherries down."

But the 76-year-old Swiss, a year on from being re-elected as FIFA President against the backdrop of bribery and corruption, added: "This is the first step, a very important one, and we will definitely take the second step at next year's Congress."

The relatively conciliatory atmosphere at the Congress in the Hungarian capital was in stark contrast to this time last year in Zurich when Blatter was due to stand against Qatari Mohamed Bin Hamman for the Presidency, only for the Qatari to pull out just days before the vote and later get banned from football for life for his role in the bribery scandal which engulfed Caribbean members and forced former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner to resign after 24 years.

"This is an historic day," said Blatter who later gave a rambling 20-minute address at the start of a post-Congress news conference.

"We are going forward.

"We are regulating ourselves.

"We will stick to the road map and be ready in 2013."

Blatter paid particular tribute to the arrival of Nsekera, who was co-opted on to the FIFA Executive Committee for a year when elections will take place to fill the position for longer.

"For the first time in 108 years of men's in football, we will now have the honour and the pleasure to invite a lady to be part of our Committee," he said.

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