FIFA Congress to accelerate Blatter's reforms

Sepp Blatter's reform of FIFA will continue on Friday when delegates at the 62nd FIFA Congress review a set of proposals aimed at modernising the way world football's governing body is run.

In an interview with Reuters this week, the 76-year-old Swiss, whose organisation was battered by a series of scandals last year, said he was hugely optimistic that delegates would see how far matters had improved a year into his fourth term.

"I am an optimist," Blatter, who was re-elected in June for what he says will be his final term, told Reuters ahead of the congress.

"I am sure you will see at the congress that we are back in the harbour, not heaven yet, but we are taking more people on board and are heading to calm, clearer waters."

Blatter was elected as his organisation faced a backdrop of bribery and corruption allegations at a tense, acrimonious congress in Zurich, but delegates will review a series of reforms aimed at making FIFA more transparent.

Blatter originally set a two-year "road map" for reform, but FIFA would seem to be ahead of that schedule following recommendations made by the Independent Governance Committee (IGC) working under the governance expert Mark Pieth.

One of the key changes is that FIFA's Ethics Committee is being split into two with an investigatory body and an adjudicatory body dealing with contentious issues. It will also approve the setting up of a new Audit and Compliance Committee under the chairmanship of Domenico Scala, a Swiss-Italian business and legal expert.

The congress will also co-opt the first woman, Lydia Nsereka, in FIFA's 108-year history to the executive committee. She is the Burundi FA President, a member of the International Olympic Committee and also sits on Pieth's IGC body.

VERY HAPPY

"I am very happy that some of the main points I mentioned last year, including the two-part Ethics Committee, are now the crucial point in the recommendations made by the IGC," Blatter said.

As well as changes to FIFA's statutes, the congress is also expected to welcome the newly-independent state of South Sudan as FIFA's 209th member association.

The move has been accelerated by a proposed change, that delegates will vote on, that means new associations no longer have to be members of their own confederations for two years before becoming FIFA members.

South Sudan, who joined the Confederation of African Football in February, are set to be the first to benefit from the expected change.

Other proposals to be discussed include one from the German FA suggesting match officials should be paid by bank transfer within 10 days of a match rather than in cash on the day of the game.

The congress is also expected to approve changes to insurance rules which will now cover players on international duty.

The FIFA Congress formally opens on Thursday night with a short opening ceremony, but delegates only get down to business on Friday.


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