FIFA’s executive is poring over the contents of Mark Pieth’s 15-page report of recommendations into how the world federation should reform itself. Certainly, more members will read this report than studied the technical analysis of the World Cups for 2018 and 2022.
A number of people and sectors at the pinnacle of the world game are not happy with what it contains or they fear it contains.
Argentina’s Julio Grondona and Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz are not happy with a ‘recommendation’ with age and term limits; Michel Platini is unhappy with the speed at which he believes the executive committee is being railroaded; and the Qataris are unhappy with suggestions that their successful 2022 campaign should be re-examined.
Pieth, a Basel governance expert, has threatened to walk away from the FIFA reform process unless he gets his way on just about everything. He may have to do exactly that or, at least, compromise on his demands before president Sepp Blatter faces the media late tomorrow afternoon.
Compromise? On age limits, for example. CONMEBOL president Leoz is 83 and Argentinian Grondona, FIFA’s senior vice-president, is 80. One counter-proposal is age and term limitations should not apply to current member of the exco.
As for speed, German Theo Zwanziger, in charge of reviewing FIFA’s statutes, wants to drive his changes through in time to be reviewed at Congress in Budapest in May. UEFA president Platini, among others, objects.
Re 2022, since the Qatar award was tied in to Russia 2018 – like Siamese twins – it might be impossible to review the one without reviewing the other. Some of the governance committee members are not exactly disinterested and, anyway, the contracts with both have been signed and sealed.
FIFA has been in some confusion over aims and objectives ever since Pieth began his work (and Transparency International withdrew in a huff).
Take the contentious ISL issue, for example. Last October, when Blatter set out the reform road map, he promised to open up the confidential ISL court file for review by the exco last December.
Yet, at the same time, FIFA was one of three parties – along with, it is reported, Joao Havelange and Ricardo Teixeira – applying to the Swiss Supreme Court to keep the ISL file secret. Only after the public revelation that Blatter and FIFA, Janus-like, were facing both ways simultaneously, did the world federation drop its suit.
The spectre of the Roman god haunting the corridors of power in Zurich resurfaced yesterday in Manchester with a comment from head of security Chris Eaton as he edges towards the FIFA exit and a wider role on behalf of the International Centre for Sport Security.
Last autumn Eaton had announced an initiative setting up a hotline and amnesty for players, referees and officials approached by matchfixers.
This, he said at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester, had been halted before it was even launched on orders of Blatter who had decided that corruption-hunting should be an issue for consideration by Pieth.
Quite why pursuing the “scourge” of matchfixing – as Blatter described it last week – should have been halted because of internal administrative issues appears somewhat baffling.
Still, all may be revealed Friday. Pieth will be publishing his report at 4pm BST, just as Blatter faces the media to reveal what the exco – and its worried members – have decided what to do with it.
By Keir Radnedge