FIFA approves reform package, delays World Cup expansion

ZURICH: FIFA's executive committee approved a package of planned reforms on Thursday aimed at cleaning up soccer's scandal-plagued world governing body, proposing term limits for senior officials and increased representation for women.

The proposals, which would also reduce the power of the executive committee, will be presented in February to FIFA's Congress, which has the power to alter the statutes.

At the same time, the executive committee delayed a decision on a controversial proposal to expand the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams.

“These reforms are moving FIFA towards improved governance, greater transparency and more accountability," FIFA's acting president, Issa Hayatou, in a statement.

"They mark a milestone on our path towards restoring FIFA’s credibility as a modern, trusted and professional sports organisation."

Under the proposals, FIFA's president and leading officials would be restricted to three terms of four years each, and would be subjected to centralised integrity checks before assuming office.

Political and management roles, currently both held by the executive committee, would be separated.

A FIFA Council, which would replace the executive committee, would be responsible for "setting the organisation’s overall strategic direction, while the general secretariat will oversee the operational and commercial actions required to effectively execute that strategy".

There would also be at least one female representative on the FIFA Council for each of the six continental confederations, FIFA said.

A proposal to enlarge the World Cup was put on hold. "There was no decision on this proposal, but it will be further debated," said FIFA.

Many people involved in football believe that 32 is the ideal number of participants for a World Cup, and that a larger tournament would be less manageable and suffer a drop in quality.

FIFA is under pressure from a series of widening corruption investigations, not least against its president, Sepp Blatter, who is suspended and will be replaced at the congress in February.

On Thursday, Swiss police acting on behalf of US authorities arrested two regional soccer bosses from the Americas officials attending the meeting in Zurich, on suspicion taking millions of dollars in bribes linked to television rights.