Thomas Bach has welcomed the FIFA reform proposals but he is worried that the world football federation scandal will cast a pall over all sport for years to come.
The president of the International Olympic Committee was speaking after a week of meetings in Lausanne including a gathering of his executive board after a string of scandals concerning not only FIFA but also the world athletics body, the IAAF, and the Russian doping crisis.
Early in the day the IOC issued a lengthy “declaration on good governance in sport and the protection of clean athletes” in which it signalled its own plans to audit exactly how its own money was being spent by national Olympic and sports bodies.
One section of the declaration pointed a finger of resentment directly to FIFA, saying: “The IOC executive board remains concerned with regard to the ongoing criminal procedures in the United States and Switzerland, which according to these authorities could last for another five years.
“Since this could continue to overshadow the credibility of FIFA and affect all sport organisations for such a long time, the IOC EB encourages FIFA to take all necessary measures to clarify and resolve all the pending issues as soon as possible by further engaging with the relevant authorities.”
More than 40 senior football directors and marketing executives have been arrested or become subject to indictments from the United States Department of Justice over the past seven months in connection with a $150m corruption investigation in the Americas.
The scandal contributed to the decision of FIFA president Sepp Blatter to step down. A new president will be elected next February 26.
Bach refused to talk about the election campaign and the candidates, saying: “This is a decision to be taken by FIFA and by FIFA alone.”
But he reiterated the concern the reputation of all sport and its officials had been tarnished by the revelations of bribery and fraud.
Bach said: “It is obvious that not only the IOC but many sports are concerned [about] good governance because many people generalise and [see such issues] as not just about specific international federations but about sport in general.
“This why we are concerned and why so many other sports organisations are concerned and continue to be concerned to see these proceedings dragging on and with, from week to week, other bad news coming out.”
Hence the importance for all sport that FIFA Congress in February should take decisive and positive steps forward by endorsing all the recommendations emanating from a reform committee chaired by former IOC director-general Francois Carrard.
Bach said: “These reforms, I think, are definitely a great step in the right way. Now, finally, there will be term limits and other measures so these reforms, if approved, will be a sound basis for the future of FIFA.”