FIFA 'reforms on track'
03 April 2012, 13:25
Geneva - A FIFA anti-corruption adviser said the process of cleaning
up football's world governing body is still on track despite President
Sepp Blatter delivering fewer promises than expected.
Wrage said "progress is as good as we could have hoped" after Blatter
announced a limited slate of reforms approved by his executive committee
"Which is not the same as perfect or ideal," Wrage, a
member of the independent panel advising FIFA, said in a telephone
interview from the United States.
Wrage, the president of
anti-bribery consultants TRACE, said the 13-member panel led by Swiss
law professor Mark Pieth worked at "lightning speed" to present FIFA
with a first phase of reform proposals.
However, FIFA's executive committee did not fully address many of the Pieth team's requests, and shifted most decisions to 2013.
know there is a lot of cynicism, and I share some of that," Wrage said,
acknowledging suspicion among many football fans over whether FIFA has a
genuine desire to change after bribery and vote-rigging scandals.
"Although I think things are going as well as they can at this point."
FIFA has committed to revamping its ethics court and exerting tighter
financial controls, the measures - which still need final approval next
month from FIFA's 208 member nations - fell short of Wrage's
Blatter's colleagues did not grant the Pieth panel's
"fundamental" request to guarantee executive committee seats for the
elected ethics and compliance officials. They also did not create a
separate Nominations Committee tasked with proposing and vetting
candidates for future FIFA positions.
"I'm disappointed by that.
That is one of the things I felt was very important," said Wrage, a
Canadian lawyer who is a global authority on anti-bribery compliance.
emerged from Friday's session with Pieth at FIFA headquarters hailing
"unanimous" backing from his 24-man ruling committee on a "historic" day
for his reform mission.
Yet proposals such as revising the ethics
code and requiring greater transparency in FIFA's commercial deals,
worth $1 billion annually, were not mentioned.
committee also did not vote on potentially tricky decisions to cut their
tenure by imposing term limits, and diluting their power by bringing
independent outsiders into FIFA's inner circle.
Wrage believes the
"next big step" for Pieth's team in their scheduled 18-month task is
finding candidates to fill these key seats.
important to the success of this process," Wrage said. "It has to be
somebody with impeccable credentials and an international reputation."
expects the elected Ethics Committee leaders to have the expertise and
"unfettered" authority to order investigations into recent allegations
of wrongdoing, which Pieth's team said FIFA failed to deal with
This includes examining how FIFA reached decisions to
award Russia and Qatar hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups,
"They will on their own initiative be able to look
at and investigate whatever they deem appropriate," Wrage said. "That is
at the very core of an independent investigative arm."
she still believes FIFA members do have an appetite for reform, and
that the Pieth panel's involvement is not merely "window dressing." Her
colleagues on the advisory group include former Watergate investigator
Michael Hershman and Britain's former attorney-general Peter Goldsmith.
clearly not something any of us wanted to be associated with," said
Wrage, whose expenses for her FIFA work are funded entirely by the
Annapolis, Maryland-based TRACE.
"If the scandals aren't dealt
with, and the reform isn't completed, we're not going to be able to get
anybody to focus on anything else, and I think he (Blatter) knows that."