Former International Olympic Committee (IOC) director general Francois Carrard has been appointed to head the new reform task force of the scandal-plagued global football body FIFA.
FIFA confirmed on Tuesday that the 77-year-old Swiss lawyer, who guided the IOC through its own corruption scandal following the vote for 2002 Winter Olympics, won by Salt Lake City, will head an 11-person group charged with reforming FIFA.
Carrard, who served as director general of the IOC for 14 years until 2003, will lead the team of officials picked by FIFA's six continental confederations. World Cup sponsors will also nominate two members to the panel.
"It's a very big crisis," Carrard said in a conference call with reporters. "The objective is to get acceptable reforms to the world and to restore FIFA's credibility."
When the news of Carrard’s possible appointment was reported last week, Canadian lawyer Dick Pound, who headed the investigation into IOC corruption, said Carrard was a good choice.
“Very suitable, assuming he is satisfied with the terms of reference, then he would be excellent," Pound told Reuters. “He is an experienced lawyer, he has got good judgment. He has had a lot of international experience and exposure and he is Swiss which I think would appeal to an organisation like FIFA, who would probably not welcome anyone, certainly from North America or even the (British) Commonwealth, in that kind of position," he said.
“Deep-rooted structural change”
Zurich-based FIFA has been in a deep crisis since May, when nine football officials and five marketing executives were charged by the US Justice Department in an indictment that outlined massive corruption, including bribes and kickbacks of more than $150 million (CHF147 million) over 24 years.
The Swiss authorities have also launched a criminal investigation into possible corruption in football targeting the awarding of the World Cup hosting rights to Russia for 2018 and to Qatar for 2022. FIFA confirmed last week it had also launched its own parallel internal investigation led by external lawyers into the corruption allegations.
In the wake of the scandal, FIFA's 79-year-old President Sepp Blatter has said he will stand down next February.
When he announced his resignation plans in June, Blatter promised "deep-rooted structural change". Reform proposals affecting the FIFA president and executive committee include term limits, publishing their salary and stricter vetting of candidates. On September 24-25, Blatter will chair an executive committee meeting in Zurich where FIFA has promised "concrete and comprehensive reform proposals" from the task force.
Carrard suggested people from within the sport could achieve more than outsiders. Recent attemps to reform FIFA were driven by anti-corruption advisers led by Swiss law professor Mark Pieth.
"At some point these outsiders are sitting on the clouds. You have to be in the eye of the storm and moving the reforms with the people inside," said Carrard, who will call on some outside help.
Carrard will choose up to five people to form an advisory board that will review his reform proposals to the FIFA executive committee. Final approval is by FIFA's 209 member federations when they also elect their new president in Zurich on February 26.
swissinfo.ch with agencies