FIFA’s head of compliance went public with changes that he says the embattled soccer governing body needs to restore its credibility after U.S. authorities accused current and former senior officials of “rampant” corruption.
Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance body, decided to go public with the document, which has been shared with the organization’s board, to ensure greater transparency in a process that will define its future.
Publication of the eight proposals, which included splitting the functions of the 25-member executive committee and term limits for senior officials, puts pressure on a separate reform committee announced by outgoing president Sepp Blatter to come up with substantive changes. Blatter announced he would quit after 17 years in the top job just four days after winning a fifth term in office as pressure mounted following the arrests of seven FIFA officials, including two vice presidents.
“It serves the purpose of being very transparent on what the issues are and what the remedies are,” Scala said Thursday in an interview after he talked to representatives of FIFA’s sponsors and media. “Only if we are transparent about that we can assess the reform process and we can build credibility back.”
Scala also suggested centralized integrity checks, pay disclosure and revised World Cup bidding rules. The top committee would be elected by all of FIFA’s 209 members and regional bodies would have more oversight.
“Term limits are probably the most important one,” Scala said. “A number of issues have a root cause that people have stayed too long in one position. When you put a term limit in the document, it has a significant effect over time. It cuts relations that develop over time.”
While Scala’s proposals express in detail what the former health-care executive thinks needs to be done following unprecedented crisis at the 111-year-old organization there has been scant detail from the reform committee. That group is dominated by officials from FIFA’s six confederations, including members of the executive committee, which for decades has been at the center of allegations that have damaged FIFA’s reputation.
Scala proposes curtailing the executive board’s power, including splitting the group into a supervisory board and management board, a common practice in the corporate world. He also said members of the executive should give up other roles they have in order to free themselves from conflicts of interest. In his report, Scala suggested FIFA take legal action against “former executive committee members in order to claim damages for losses incurred.”
Later this year, FIFA’s top committee will decide which proposals to take forward for a vote at an emergency congress on Feb. 26. Blatter’s replacement will be selected on the same day. Further reforms are likely to be voted on at its ordinary congress in May.
“What we have heard so far is a lot of empty words,” Scala said of the election hopefuls, who include European soccer head Michel Platini and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, the Jordanian royal who challenged Blatter in the last election. Korean billionaire Chung Mong-Joon is also standing.
“There’s nothing wrong with words like better governance, more democracy and more transparency but it doesn’t say anything,” Scala said. “I’ve tried to avoid empty words in my report.”
Prince Ali, who announced his candidacy Wednesday, told an audience in London that “only a new face, a new style and a new leader” can bring the change FIFA needs.