The president of the world football federation is targeting the composition of the all-powerful, governing executive committee. Basel professor Mark Pieth approached this issue. But Blatter’s vision goes much further than that of the governance guru.
Almost unnoticed at FIFA Congress in Mauritius last week, Blatter departed from the published text of his address to suggest that the exco should reflect the size and membership of the six regional confederations.
At the moment the 24 elected members of the exco (excluding Blatter) owe their numerical balance to history and political manoeuvring: eight from Europe, four from Africa, four from Asia, three from CONCACAF (central and North America), three from South America plus one from Oceania.
The African contingent is swelled ‘accidentally’ by one since the newly-elected women’s football representative is African (Burundi’s Lydia Nsekera). Co-opted for one year are Moya Dodd (Asia) and Sonia Bien-Aime (CONCACAF) whose long-term status has yet to be decided.
A politically-evolved imbalance is evident among the vice-presidents with three from Europe and one each from Africa, Asia, CONCACAF, Oceania and South America.
Pieth’s reform proposals had addressed the issue of exco composition. But his concern was the inclusion of two non-executive directors similar to the set-up in a commercial company boardroom.
This proposal went down like a lead balloon with the FIFA old guard, though audit and compliance chairman Domenico Scala has the right to sit in whenever he wants to check up on the exco.
Blatter’s dissatisfaction with the composition of the exco is nothing new. Early in his 15-year reign he told this writer he would like to see direct representation from different sectors of the game such as referees, leagues etc.
He never made an issue of it because “turkeys do not vote for Christmas.” In any case he benefited from the voting support on offer from AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam and CONCACAF’s Jack Warner.
Now the political vista has changed. If Blatter wishes to run again for president in 2015 then a willingness to open up the exco to the benefit of Africa and Asia could be a vote-winner.
This is, of course, conjecture.
What Blatter said in congress was: “Reform has a continual character and we have to put into question, also in the future, if we are on the right track . . . when we are speaking about democracy, one country, one association, one vote shall we have the courage to go further into this situation by saying the politial power in FIFA should be a reflection of the one country, one vote?”
This writer asked Blatter, later, to clarify his comments.
He said: “We have one member, one vote in FIFA so in the government we should also have a kind of balance also of members and votes and this does not exist. We have to tackle it . . . We have to tackle it.”
What could this mean?
That each confederation should have one vice-president (rather than Europe having three)?
That confederations with 40+ national associations should have the same number of exco members (putting Africa, 56, on a par with Europe, 54, followed closely by Asia, 47, and CONCACAF, 40)?
Or by registered players?
Or by population?
Intriguing, as ever.
Keep watching this space.