David OwenThe material published in the latest Sunday Times expose has sparked renewed calls for Joseph Blatter, FIFA's 78-year-old President, to stand down.

This is not remotely surprising. And, indeed, I concur there are strong arguments for his current term being his last - even though, in the real world, he still looks well-placed to sail triumphantly to a fifth term at the head of world football's governing body from 2015.

I also think, though, that the question of Blatter's personal future tends to distract attention from the more important issue.

The nature of his leadership is a symptom not a cause of FIFA's deficiencies.

The Swiss septuagenarian has exploited with great skill a failed governance system.

Reforming this system is the key task. Still.

Whenever I think about this, I keep coming back to the enviable position of the Confederations in world football's jigsaw of power.

A Confederation President in control of his continent's bloc vote can, if he so chooses, exert considerable 'ballot-box' pressure both upwards, to influence the decisions of FIFA's Executive Committee, and downwards, to sway votes taken in Congress.

This can leave the FIFA President, who has no Confederation to run and therefore no confederation colleagues to support him, startlingly impotent, unless he succeeds in bringing some of the big Confederation bosses around to his point of view.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter can be left startlingly impotent when it comes to influencing votes ©Getty ImagesFIFA President Sepp Blatter can be left startlingly impotent when it comes to influencing votes ©Getty Images

A resourceful master politician such as Blatter has plenty of levers at his disposal in order to achieve this.

But in terms of raw voting power inside the Executive Committee alone, he is no better off than the President of the microscopic Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).

This can apply even to a FIFA President who has proved as masterful at preserving his own position as Blatter.

As evidence, you need look only at the first round of voting in the election to choose a host for the 2022 World Cup, when I believe Blatter was alone in casting his ballot for Australia.

I am not aware of him ever having confirmed this, but I don't believe that he voted for Qatar at any point in the four-round contest.

So, for effective governance, you either need a system that produces wise confederation heads, or a mechanism for blocking the most questionable decisions, preferably both.

With a nod to the US democratic system, I believe this could be achieved by creating a FIFA Senate of independent international VIPs

This body would have two key roles: to vet Confederation heads on appointment and re-election to assess, first, their credentials and, subsequently, their track record; to review and, where judged necessary, to block big decisions taken by the Executive Board and FIFA Congress.

This blocking power should be used extremely sparingly.

Then again, I think its very existence would exert a positive influence on the quality of decision-making by football officials.

A FIFA Senate would help keep the Executive Board and Congress in check ©Getty ImagesA FIFA Senate would help keep the Executive Board and Congress in check ©Getty Images

How though would we decide who should sit on this Senate? - a matter plainly of the utmost importance, since, if you chose the wrong people, the whole exercise would be a waste of time and money.

I would suggest seeking the assistance of another sports body which has succeeded in transforming its governance reputation considerably for the better in recent times: the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Very simply, the IOC could invite Governments and other bodies to submit Senator nominees.

The IOC's Executive Board would then select a balanced group of, I would think, no more than 20 individuals, with a wide range of specialisms - business, law, the environment, perhaps even a writer or two - to comprise the Senate.

Their term of office should be relatively long; six years seems about right.

But no-one should serve more than one term. Neither the FIFA President nor any Confederation head should play any role in their selection.

Many no doubt will rule out any such initiative on principle, saying it would dilute football's ability to direct its own affairs.

By seeking to involve independent outside voices in key decisions, however, football would, in a sense, be doing no more than attempting to strike the sort of balance maintained by the IOC, whose 100-plus members include eminent people from various fields besides sport.

The IOC has this flexibility because it is, in essence, a club not a federation.

The International Olympic Committee has transformed its governance reputation, so why couldn't such a model work for FIFA? ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe International Olympic Committee has transformed its governance reputation, so why couldn't such a model work for FIFA? ©AFP/Getty Images

Almost no-one, moreover, would claim that its administrative record was flawless.

In recent years, though, it has steered what most sports-watchers would accept was a generally sensible and successful path.

FIFA, in spite of presiding over the second-most popular recreational pursuit known to man, has become, to put it politely, a laughing-stock.

If a method can be devised of importing some of the IOC's new-found surefootedness, it should grasp the opportunity with alacrity.

And those with leverage to encourage it to act fast should do so.

David Owen worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK. He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 World Cup and London 2012. Owen's Twitter feed can be accessed here.