Football’s world governing body FIFA met in Zurich on Thursday to endorse a series of proposed reforms that promise to change the way the organisation is run.
The executive committee met just hours after two FIFA officials were arrested as part of an investigation into corruption at the organisation, a probe led by the United States.
Despite losing two members, the rest of the committee voted unanimously in favour of a series of changes to the organisation. It decided to re-name itself the “FIFA Council”, saying that in future, members will be elected by regional FIFA associations with integrity and oversight checks by a separate body.
Other decisions made on Thursday included maximum term limits for the FIFA president and all members of the council, publishing future salaries of the same officials, a clear separation of political and management functions, integrity checks for committee members and reducing the size of committees for greater efficiency.
In addition, the reform package proposed creating more decision making roles for women as part of a diversity move.
Acting FIFA President Issa Hayatou hailed the proposed reforms as a “roadmap for radical and necessary change.” Addressing journalists at FIFA HQ in Zurich on Thursday, Hayatou added: “They will mark the beginning of a change in culture at FIFA.”
But Hayatou was then forced to defend himself against a series of accusations from the media pack. “I have never received a single dollar or euro to vote for a World Cup host,” he answered one British journalist.
Hayatou was standing in for suspended President Sepp Blatter, who himself stands accused of making corrupt payments. The arrest of two executive council members hours before the body met to consider reforms added extra urgency to the process.
On Wednesday, football’s major corporate sponsors had demanded transparent and meaningful reform. François Carrard, the Swiss lawyer appointed by Blatter to draw up reforms, is convinced they will make a difference.
“We all know that FIFA is going through a major crisis,” he told the press conference. “But crisis can also be a unique opportunity for change.”
The recommended reforms will be voted on by global football associations at FIFA’s extraordinary council meeting on February 26. The same meeting will vote in a successor to Blatter.