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Blatter embraces change, but is it enough?

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David Bond | 16:42 UK time, Friday, 21 October 2011

Sepp Blatter insists the reforms announced on Friday mark the start of a new era for Fifa.

By even acknowledging the problems of the past, the men who run world football are at least showing small signs of progress.

Maybe it is too soon to judge but it was impossible not to feel underwhelmed by what Blatter announced.

For almost half an hour he talked about task forces and governance committees that would work towards greater transparency and anti-corruption measures. The date for the delivery of these changes? 2013.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter

The 75-year-old Blatter is in his last term as Fifa president - photo: Getty

In the midst of all the rhetoric there were very few concrete proposals. The most significant announcements were:

  • Tougher checks for Fifa executives and senior officials. Blatter described this as screening but exactly what they will be screened for he did not say
  • Co-operation with anti-corruption group Transparency International to deliver tougher measures to open up the governing body
  • Confirmation of a decision taken at the FIFA congress back in June, to appoint a woman to the Fifa executive committee
  • A new governance committee made up of 15 representatives from inside and outside football to oversee the new reform process. Blatter said this will include people from clubs, leagues, referees, women's football but also TV, marketing, politicians and lawyers
  • A beefed up ethics committee with stronger investigatory powers

A clear timetable has now been set out and Blatter will be under intense pressure now to make good with these plans two years from now.

But by far the most important announcement was the decision to release the papers relating to the collapse of former marketing partners ISL.

A BBC Panorama investigation by Andrew Jennings last November revealed documents which allegedly showed how three senior executives at Fifa took bribes in return for awarding ISL lucrative World Cup rights.

An inquiry by Swiss prosecutors was dropped when two unknown officials paid back £3.9m to settle the case in 2010. Since then Fifa has repeatedly blocked attempts to make papers relating to the scandal public.

By at last agreeing to open the 42-page file to public scrutiny, Fifa has indicated it is prepared to make a break with the past.

However, the executive committee only agreed to the release of the file. It is now up to lawyers to work out what will be released and when it can actually be made available.

At the same time Fifa has also announced it will hand the document to an independent body who will investigate those officials involved for any wrongdoing.

It is not clear who will be on that independent panel or when it will act but we definitely won't see any movement on this until the next executive committee meeting in mid- December.

There may be genuine legal reasons for all this but somehow Fifa has turned something which should have been a real breakthrough into a move which raises new suspicions about the motives.

Blatter and Fifa genuinely believe the ISL decision and the road map to reform these are a step change for an organisation which has been so resistant to modernisation.

Perhaps they will. But at this stage they are far too vague and go nowhere near far enough.


  • Comment number 1.

    The question I, as well as many other fans want answered is this, did FIFA annouce both World Cups i.e. 2018 and 2022 together knowing full well there was corruption, or something close to it, to ensure that it would be legally impossible to stop Qatar getting the World Cup in 2022 - this has nothing to do with sour grapes by the way as if they'd won it in the normal process that would have been OK but there are simply too many questions for that World Cup to ever be unquestioned.

  • Comment number 2.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 3.

    ...and the point of this article is???????????

  • Comment number 4.

    Like it will make any difference???? They're all doing dodgy deals. The thing about Blatter is he's the worst of the lot!

    Nothing will really happen as it's like turkeys voting for christmas

  • Comment number 5.

    Granted they are all probably crooked, but when fifa actually make a positive step in the right direction don't just repeatedly go on about how its never enough and how they are beyond repair. Lets be honest its hardly as if the whole organisation is about to crumble so although all the info that you give us is great you don't need to bash fifa on every one of these blogs, only when its relevant and justified

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    FOUL! by Andrew Jennings is a must-read on this subject

    Even if FIFA was squeakier than clean from now on (highly dubious) then Blatter has already done more than enough to end up having an awkward encounter with Bubba in the shower!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Now that ex-FIFA president Joao Havelange may be involved in the ISL case, Joseph Sepp Blatter may be wondering if the next president after him (expected to be Platini) will open a similar case against him. If Blatter has not awarded gifts to any of the member countries during his presidential tenure, I'll be a monkey's uncle!

  • Comment number 9.

    The sad reality is that this attempt at reform within FIFA is just a PR exercise with the sole aim of appeasing the the media and public. There is no evidence that suggests FIFA really want to reform for the actual good of the game.

    This is nothing more than an act of self preservation by selfish and greedy individuals who still wield an incredible amount of power an influence in the world of sport.

  • Comment number 10.

    "...but it was impossible not to feel underwhelmed by what Blatter announced."

    That's three negatives in a row, David; perhaps some George Orwell is in order? What you mean I presume is that it's impossible to feel elated, or that most will feel underwhelmed.

  • Comment number 11.

    If anything underhand is revealed, the FA should be sending FIFA the £17m bill for the failed bid, or would have have a good chance in court of getting it back.

  • Comment number 12.

    As usual, Blatter covers himself in this smokescreen. A pretty lame attempt to show the football world that he's tough on corruption. I think he really believes that we're all stupid.

    I wish the media would go after him and his cronies as voraciously as they chase other football people.

  • Comment number 13.

    First off I too would like to know why FIFA and Blatter felt it necessary to choose the 2022 hosts more than a decade in advance! Was it just incompetence or did Blatter want everything wrapped up during his tenure? Secondly, with two of Blatter's closest associates over the past few years and others too all carrying out their misdeeds on his watch but apparently without his knowledge (sic) the honourable thing to do would be to resign.

  • Comment number 14.

    Still absolutely baffled by the fact that Blatter was able to run unapposed for re-election. I seriously cannot believe that FIFA was unable to find even one person from the vast world of football to run against him. Forget all these transparency reforms - how about introducing simple democracy to these so-called 'elections'? Like any legitimate working system, democracy has to come first, then surely transparency, accountability and true reform will inevitably follow.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm confused ....."By at last agreeing to open the 42-page file to public scrutiny" ......."the executive committee only agreed to the release of the file"...... "It is now up to lawyers to work out what will be released and when...." So......... The file will be released on an undefined date once lawyers have decided how much of the 42 pages document can be scrutinised by the public. Laughable. FIFA under Blatter are simply pathalogically incapable of transparency. A maze of committees and structures to put a document in the public domain??????????

  • Comment number 16.

    Yes... screening for what ? Past irregularities are quite easy to spot... but what of the future temptations... how can you possibly regulate THAT ? Given FIFA's global agenda I knew from the start & openly accept that Russia had 2018 written all over it, but Qatar 2022 is a dubious choice for Footballing reasons and an even MORE dubious choice based on the ever-increasing stories of involvement in, or allegations of bribery and corruption that points in that direction. FIFA (Blatter) could gain face by admitting that the Qatar Award was now Null & Void. England would not need to re-apply for 2022. The reasons are many.

  • Comment number 17.

    The USA World Cup was based on Franchise sponsorship... and gave us an "illegal" game played INDOORS as a result. "The Official..." this and that Product attached to the World Cup, Olympics or such points a very big finger in the way of Financial dealings of a very unscrupulous nature. They would need investigating immediately. Both Events should be FREE of such involvement. If they cannot sustain themselves by mere presence, why the need for Corporate involvement.

  • Comment number 18.

    If a World Cup cannot exist without Corporate Sponsorship... it should not exist at all.
    It is, after all, just a Sport, and I've seen better games at the muddy fields down the road on a Sunday morning. Without Sponsor hoardings I might add!!!

    I have no interest in the Olympics, and the embarrasment that London 2012 will bring will only be judged on the Fireworks at the closing ceremony. Few of which will be at the Olympic Park.


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