FIFA president too powerful under current system - Governance expert

An expert in sports governance believes too much power at FIFA is concentrated in the president.

The position of FIFA president has become too powerful under the governing body's current structure, according to a sports governance expert who recommends limited terms of office.

Sepp Blatter announced his intention to stand down on Tuesday after 14 people, including nine past and present FIFA officials, were indicted by United States authorities on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and corruption last week, although the Swiss offered alternative reasons for arriving at his decision.

And Tom Bruce of law firm Farrer and Co, who regularly advises national and international sports bodies on a wide range of governance and constitutional matters, has urged major electoral reform.

"At the moment, in terms of management, I think quite clearly everyone would acknowledge that power is excessively concentrated in the president," he told Perform.

"The election should be a far more rigorous and transparent process and be based on objective criteria, so that you actually get someone skilled in that office, and that he should be subject to limited terms of office.

"I think one of the key problems they've had with Blatter is that he's been in office for so long [17 years].

"Limited terms of office - two lots of four years - would help freshen up the organisation.

"It may be that, rather having all that power resting with the president, you go down the route of having a separate chair and chief executive, in the way that you would find in a private or public company.

"You then have more of a check and balance than you do at the moment and you'd then find that the individual in that presidential-type role would be held much more accountable by the board."

Blatter's announcement came a matter of days after he had held off the challenge from Prince Ali bin Al Hussein to win a fifth term as FIFA president, and a successor will not be named until an extraordinary congress - to be held by March 2016 - has taken place.

But Bruce believes Prince Ali, who withdrew from the election after picking up 73 votes to Blatter's 133 in the first round of voting last Friday, is the frontrunner for football's top job.

"I was surprised that he [Prince Ali] got as many votes as he did in that first round," he added. "I've not seen in the news, nor am I aware of, any other candidate that would be ahead of him at this stage.

"But of course there are going to be nine or 10 months, or however long it's going to be, before an extraordinary congress takes place to elect a replacement.

"It will be very interesting to see if anyone else is put forward as a strong candidate.

"Right now, to my mind, Prince Ali is certainly the frontrunner."