Soccer Officials Reject Term Limits for FIFA Executive

Soccer governing body FIFA rejected the introduction of term limits for its executive members even after its independent compliance head said they were necessary to prevent corruption.

The vote about whether the principle of term and age limits was something FIFA’s 209 member associations should consider was rejected by a majority yesterday with a show of hands at its annual meeting in Sao Paulo, where the World Cup starts today.

“The highest single risk at FIFA is the executive committee and its members,” Domenico Scala, chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, said in a telephone interview last week. “The single individual missing point now is the limitation on the terms of office.”

In recent years, FIFA executives including one-third of the group that chose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup have quit amid corruption allegations. That 2022 hosting decision is being investigated by former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, after allegations the desert state bribed officials. Qatar denies the claims, saying it acted properly throughout its 22-month bid that ended in a surprise victory in 2010.

FIFA has been forced to reform its governance structures following pressure from stakeholders including sponsors, leagues and national governments.

Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president since 1998, has said he’s changed his mind about stepping down when his fourth term ends next year. The 78-year-old was criticized two days ago by European soccer leaders, who accused him of presiding over a decline in the organization’s reputation during his 16-year presidency.

At a news conference yesterday, Blatter was asked about the remarks by European soccer officials.

“That was the most disrespectful thing I’ve experienced in my entire life,” he told reporters.

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