Reform recommendations passed unanimously by the FIFA Executive Committee prove world football’s governing body is “unable to deliver a sustainable governance model which is fit for the 21st century”, the European Club Association (ECA) has claimed, while also blasting them for not consulting clubs and key stakeholders when proposing an expansion of the World Cup.
The FIFA Reform Committee, led by François Carrard, put forward a number of proposals, including limiting the President to a 12-year term and establishing a 36-strong FIFA Council to replace the current ruling Executive Committee, which were agreed on at a meeting in Zurich yesterday.
The formation of a Football Stakeholders Committee, made up of players and representatives from clubs and leagues, a crucial step to including those involved in the game at the top level of footballing governance, was also proposed.
The recommendations were an attempt to improve the tarnished image of FIFA, which has been engulfed in crisis since the arrest of 14 officials ahead of its Congress in May.
They are due to be put to a vote at next year’s Extraordinary Congress in Zurich on February 26, where Sepp Blatter’s tumultuous reign in charge at world football’s governing body is also set to come to an end.
The Executive Committee meeting was overshadowed by arrests of two FIFA vice-presidents, Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay, who were among 16 further officials to be indicted by the United States Department of Justice on corruption charges.
The ECA, the independent body which represents football clubs in Europe and has 220 members from 53 associations, including the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United, believe the reforms will do more harm than good, claiming they will lead to “increased frustrations among stakeholders”.
“ECA had misgivings towards the manner in which FIFA managed this reform process, but agreed to give FIFA the benefit of the doubt believing that it was serious in its attempt to modernise the governance of world football,” an ECA statement read.
“However, given the recommendations that have now been presented, ECA was right to believe that a reform process led from within is unable to deliver a sustainable governance model, which is fit for the 21st century.
“A number of recommendations are important and necessary steps which should lead to FIFA’s institutional structure becoming more transparent and accountable moving forward.
“Nevertheless, the Committee’s proposals relating specifically to the governance reform are missing the involvement and greater recognition of all stakeholders.
“The creation of a football stakeholders’ committee does not address the lack of proper and meaningful stakeholder participation in FIFA’s decision-making process.”
The proposal to expand the World Cup from 32 teams to 40 for the 2026 tournament was a surprise item on the Executive Committee agenda.
A decision on whether it will go ahead was not made at yesterday’s meeting, with further debate expected, although it is thought it has enough support to be given the green light.
The ECA, however, feel clubs and other stakeholders should have been consulted in the proposal, which does not need to be agreed by the governing body’s 209 Member Associations as the Executive Committee has the power to approve it.
“The recommendation by the Committee to enhance the number of participating teams in the FIFA World Cup from 32 to 40 without prior consultation with the clubs (in full knowledge of the impact this will have on the professional club game), is proof that the proposed reforms are not at the required standard allowing for a new and modern FIFA,” the ECA statement read.
December 2015: FIFA Executive Committee approves reform proposals
December 2015: FIFA considering expanding World Cup teams from 32 to 40
November 2015: Third FIFA Reform Committee meeting to begin tomorrow
November 2015: FIFA Reform Committee a "waste of time and money", claims former watchdog member
November 2015: FIFA problems harder to solve than IOC's after Salt Lake City Scandal, predicts Carrard