FIFA Approves Reforms Aimed at Halting Corruption in Soccer Body

  • Top soccer body executives would be limited to 12-year terms
  • FIFA makes changes after ban of several top officials

FIFA Elections Head Into Round Two

FIFA delegates approved changes designed to open up global soccer’s governing body as it tries to overcome corruption allegations and arrests that brought on the biggest crisis in its 112-year history.

The reforms include a new top board, 12-year term limits for the president and senior officials, as well as disclosure of their pay. The motions were approved with the support of 179 by the 207 delegates who gathered Friday at Zurich’s Hallenstadion. They will also choose a replacement for banned FIFA president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter.

The corruption crisis has cut into FIFA’s ability to make money from selling broadcast rights to the World Cup, sport’s most-watched event. Acting Secretary-General Markus Kattner said the organization is $550 million behind its goal to raise $5 billion in the four years leading to the next event. Swiss and U.S. prosecutors are investigating wrongdoing at FIFA and the awarding of the next two tournaments to Russia and Qatar. Almost 40 soccer executives have been arrested in their widening probes.

“We are experiencing a high pressure from authorities and there are various legal proceedings and investigations we have to deal with,” Kattner told delegates before the vote. “The economic environment is difficult. On one side, we have significant unseen costs. On the other side, the process of commercialization of rights is delayed.”

Issa Hayatou, acting president of FIFA since Blatter’s suspension in October, on Wednesday toured the meetings of regional soccer confederations, urging them to approve the reforms.

Delegates will later choose one of five candidates as a permanent replacement for Blatter. The two frontrunners are Gianni Infantino, secretary general of the European soccer federation and Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, who heads the Asian soccer federation.

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