FIFA reform committee keeps plans under wraps

BERNE: FIFA's reform committee kept its plans for overhauling the scandal-plagued organisation's structure under wraps after its second meeting on Sunday, saying only that discussions had been "rich and in-depth".

Francois Carrard, the committee’s chairman, said he would present concrete recommendations to FIFA's executive committee on Tuesday and that progress was "on track".

FIFA is facing unprecedented pressure to reform its governance structure following the May indictment by US authorities of nine current and former football officials on bribery-related charges. Many had served on FIFA's executive committee or other FIFA committees.

Swiss public prosecutors are also investigating the decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar, both taken at a vote in Zurich in December 2010.

The crisis escalated further on Oct. 8 when both FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini, who had been favourite to succeed him, were banned for 90 days by FIFA's ethics committee, pending a full investigation.

FIFA will hold an extraordinary Congress in Zurich on Feb. 26 when its 209 member associations will elect a new president and vote on reforms.

There was no media conference after Sunday's meeting in Berne and the committee issued a short statement which gave no concrete details of what had been discussed.

"It’s been a very positive session characterised by rich and in-depth discussions on all aspects of the proposal for the reforms package which is being prepared," Carrard said in the statement.

Carrard reaffirmed he would set up a separate advisory board to consider his board's proposals.

"Our progress is on track," he said.

Domenico Scala, who heads FIFA's audit and compliance and committee, has already produced an extensive package of proposed reforms which he has made public.

This includes 12-year term limits for elected FIFA officials from the president down, full disclosure of the financial compensation of the president, general secretary and executive committee members, and more detailed integrity checks on members of committees.

Scala's proposals also include replacing the all-powerful executive committee with a governing council, elected by congress, and a management committee to handle the day-to-day affairs of the organisation.

His plans would considerably reduce the powers of the continental confederations, who elect the members of FIFA's all-powerful executive committee.

Carrard's committee was set up by the executive committee and consists of two representatives of each of the continental federations. However, he denied after a previous meeting in September that they had a vested interest in watering down Scala's plan.