Fifa president Sepp Blatter is set to announce his plans to reform football’s crisis-hit governing body on Monday. Blatter will also hold talks with Fifa’s executive committee over a date for the new presidential election.
The 79-year-old announced on 2 June he was stepping aside as head of Fifa, having just been re-elected.
But the date for what is billed as an ’emergency congress’ could slip to early 2016 given Blatter’s reported desire to stay in power until the new year. European governing body Uefa is likely to push hard in Monday’s meeting for a December date but is not expected to seek to force Blatter out early – especially given that interim control of the organisation would fall to the Swiss’s close ally Issa Hayatou.
The emergency talks will mark the first time executives have formally met since the arrest of seven football officials in Zurich in May – part of a US criminal investigation into alleged large-scale corruption and bribery.
However, Brazilian executive committee member Marco Polo del Nero will miss the meeting after telling Fifa he needs to stay at home.
Del Nero left Zurich one day after the May arrests, which saw former Brazilian confederation president Jose Maria Marin placed in detention.
Two of the 14 men indicted by the US have appeared in court in New York in recent days, including former Fifa vice president Jeffrey Webb, who has pleaded not guilty.
Swiss authorities are also investigating the circumstances surrounding the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.
They announced last week that 81 suspicious banking transactions are under review and have seized nine terabytes of IT data.
What are the reform plans?
Domenico Scala, Fifa’s independent head of audit and compliance, is due to present a series of reforms for executive committee members to consider at Monday’s meeting.
Some of Scala’s planned reforms are thought to include:
- Publishing the salaries of Fifa’s president and executive committee members
- Introducing term limits for all Fifa executives and its president, likely to be a maximum of three terms of four years
- Making Fifa responsible for integrity checks on potential executive committee members away from regional confederations and introducing a centralised ‘fit and proper person’ test
- Fifa’s annual congress of 209 member associations to directly elect executive committee members.
It is possible, however, that no agreement will be reached and that the executive committee will decide it wants to wait for a new president to be elected.
Despite that, Blatter’s desire to leave office on a relative high – after pushing through change – should ensure that some or all of the measures are approved.
What will the reform commission look like?
Coca-Cola, a major Fifa sponsor, has called for an independent commission to oversee the reform process, led by an eminent figure.
Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan has been mentioned as one possible candidate.
However, it is thought Coca-Cola’s request will be overlooked on Monday with Fifa’s leadership believing it has the answers to the organisation’s problems already at hand.
Campaign group ‘New Fifa Now’ have written to every committee member asking them to consider setting up a commission.
“As an executive committee member,” says the letter, “we suggest you have two choices.
“You can go down with what is a sinking ship – to use President Blatter’s favoured boating analogy. Or you can decide that enough is enough and make a stand.”
Blatter, together with secretary general Jerome Valcke, is due to hold a news conference early on Monday afternoon to announce the outcome of the meeting and discuss the next steps.
How will the election work?
The meeting will mark the de facto start of the election campaign, with candidates for president required to submit applications four months before polling day.
More importantly, Fifa will be hoping the outcome of Monday’s meeting will demonstrate to the US Department of Justice that it is co-operating with their demands to change and reform.
One Fifa source believes the events of May and June are a “watershed” moment for the organisation and that a historic opportunity for fundamental change is at hand.
“This is a window of opportunity to get the executive committee to give up some power,” said the source.
“Under certain scenarios the chance for reforms could close again.”
The election rule that requires candidates to show they have been involved in football for two of the past five years is expected to be maintained.
That would mark the end of any talk of a candidate emerging from outside what Blatter calls the “football family”.
Uefa’s Michel Platini remains favourite to succeed Blatter and has held a series of meetings with regional confederation chiefs in recent weeks as he weighs up a potential run.
Fifa insiders believe the next president needs to be a strong ambassador for the organisation given the scale of the criminal investigations it is facing.