Wolfgang niersbach certainly did not want to start a mutiny. But the DFB president could not simply accept the delay in FIFA’s reform program.
As the leader of the opposition from europe, niersbach criticized the postponement of the decision on a term limit and an age limit for powerful FIFA officials until 2014 at the world football association’s congress in mauritius.
"It would have been a good signal to the public if we had voted on a proposal," the DFB boss said, earning a subsaure laugh for his quiet criticism of FIFA president joseph blatter on the congress committee stage. "There was no majority for any proposal," said the FIFA boss, explaining the postponement.
Blatter’s cloaked remark that a new reform goal was to link the voting ratio in the executive to the number of national associations could be interpreted as an attack on UEFA and as a sign of a possible presidential election campaign against its continental boss, michel platini. There, the europeans are overrepresented with eight out of 24 members, although the four british federations lost their previously reserved post for a vice-president.
Blatter had received an oversized model sailing ship as a present from the friendly congress hosts – that was entirely to his taste. The swiss had felt like he was in rough seas in the past months. So the relief was all the greater when his oft-criticized reform program was accepted by the 207 voting delegates on friday without any rough grumbling. The swiss could just about bear the resistance from europe on one point of the program. "We have also reached such a high level with our reforms," he said.
"We have gone through difficult times. It was a test for the football world and its leaders. As your captain, I am happy to say we have weathered the storm. We have emerged from stormy waters stronger than before and can look forward to a bright and productive future," blatter said in his welcoming speech. At the end of the eight-and-a-half-hour meeting, he said, "I am proud to be your captain. We have confirmed FIFA’s respectability and sent a strong signal to all supporters of soccer."
The critics may have perceived this differently. Against opposition from germany and europe, delegates voted 123-16 to wait until the next meeting of the body in sao paulo to decide on an age limit and term limits for its powerful officials. "We will tackle the problem," promised blatter.
Other points of the reform were passed completely without opposition. The introduction of an integrity check for all mandate holders was approved by 198 votes to 2. This was easy for the delegates, since the review is carried out internally and not by independent bodies as demanded by FIFA critics. In addition, the congress, rather than the executive committee, will determine the world cup hosts in the future.
FIFA’s german executive committee member theo zwanziger had previously made a passionate and voluptuous speech in support of the proposals he had helped to draft. Blatter had asked the congress to approve the changes in the FIFA statutes. The swiss admitted that the world federation has had a hard time due to the various corruption scandals. "It would be a lie to say that it was easy. Yes, we had to question ourselves. And we had to fight for the welfare of the game against resistance in our own ranks. That hurt," said blatter.
On the ethics committee, german hans-joachim eckert and american michael garcia were confirmed as chairmen of the adjudicating and investigating chamber. Lydia nsekera from burundi becomes first woman to join FIFA executive committee. Moya dodd from australia and sonia bien-aime from the turks and caicos islands are co-opted members of the panel.
International anti-corruption experts have repeatedly criticized the reform process initiated in the wake of the scandals surrounding the award of the 2022 world cup to qatar and allegations of bribery of FIFA officials as inadequate. Distinguished swiss law professor mark pieth, who oversaw the process as chairman of the independent governance committee, praised FIFA for its efforts but also voiced criticism.
Having the continental federations do the integrity check is not up to standard. Also, FIFA had to move on the disclosure of the remuneration of its officials, up to the salary of the president. "I had wished that they would say, ‘we have nothing to hide’". Some issues, he said, had not been implemented because of "political decisions".
Even before his official speech, pieth spoke out on the difficult issues of age limits and term limits, thus speaking from the hearts of the reform engines niersbach and zwanziger. "For me, the age limit is not so important. If they decide to let an 80-year-old run the sport of young people, that’s a bit strange. But the term limit is more important. It is logical to say that you don’t want to have a network of old guys who set themselves up over a period of 30 years."