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No FIFA decision on World Cup expansion

FIFA’s Executive Committee has announced it has discussed the possible expansion of the World Cup to 40 teams and also agreed to limit FIFA presidents to three terms of four years.

The ExCo agreed a number of proposals put forward by the governing body’s reform committee during another tumultuous day for the organisation.

The reform announcement came just hours after two senior FIFA officials, Alfredo Hawit, president of CONCACAF, and Juan Angel Napout, president of CONMEBOL, were taken into custody by Swiss police following raids at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich.

Both Hawit and Napout are suspected of accepting millions of dollars in bribes and have opposed immediate extradition to the United States.

A statement released by FIFA confirmed reports of an expansion of the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams, reportedly in time for the 2026 World Cup, had been discussed but no decision had been made on the proposal. The issue will be debated further at a later date.

There was agreement, however, on the length the president and other high-ranking officials can serve in office.

Sepp Blatter stood down as FIFA president in June just days after winning a fifth term in charge, with a new president to be elected on February 26, 2016.

Blatter has since been hit with a provisional 90-day ban from all football-related activities by FIFA’s ethics committee after a criminal investigation was opened into allegations he sold a World Cup TV rights contract to former FIFA official Jack Warner in a deal that was unfavourable for FIFA and that the 79-year-old made a disloyal payment of two million Swiss francs to Michel Platini, with the Frenchman and secretary general Jerome Valcke also receiving provisional bans following the corruption claims.

The ExCo have now accepted the proposal that his successor should serve no longer than 12 years.

Those term limits will also apply to members of the FIFA Council, which will replace the ExCo and be “responsible for setting the organisation’s overall strategic direction”, the Audit and Compliance Committee and the judicial bodies.

The general secretariat is to oversee the operational and commercial actions required to put the Council’s strategy in place.

Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou said: “These reforms are moving FIFA towards improved governance, greater transparency and more accountability.

“They mark a milestone on our path towards restoring FIFA’s credibility as a modern, trusted and professional sports organisation.

“This signals the beginning of a culture shift at FIFA. It is important to recognise that today’s recommendations build on the foundations established by the IGC in 2011 under Mark Pieth’s leadership, which included the creation of an independent chairman on the Audit and Compliance Committee and splitting the Ethics Committee into investigative and adjudicatory chambers.

“As the February Congress approaches, I want to encourage all presidential candidates to embrace this spirit of reform and, as they campaign, to make clear their plans on how they would help FIFA enact these and other reform measures, should they be elected.”

Members of the Council and of all FIFA’s standing committees will be subject to compulsory and comprehensive integrity checks conducted by an independent review committee.

Honduran Hawit and Paraguayan Napout are opposing their extradition to the United States.

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice will now ask the US to submit formal extradition requests within a 40-day deadline. Extradition proceedings will resume upon the receipt of those requests.

FIFA has insisted it will continue to co-operate with the investigation. CONCACAF has also pledged to co-operate with all government authorities in their investigations and said the developments “only strengthen the Confederation’s resolve in continuing to enact significant structural and governance changes to the organisation”.

Thu 3 Dec, 2015
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