Port Louis - FIFA's executive committee met on Tuesday in a prelude to an annual
Congress later this week which is considered a landmark moment for
football's governing body to complete its reform process and put behind
it two years of scandals.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter will report
on the modernising reforms already undertaken last year. The 209 member
countries will then vote on more proposed changes at the two-day
Congress, which opens on Thursday on the tropical Indian Ocean island of
"I look forward to further important decisions being
passed at the Congress in 2013 to complete the reform process and bring
FIFA up to the highest standards of good governance, as befits an
organisation such as ours," Blatter wrote in his introduction to the
The president also said in response to criticism
that FIFA wasn't taking the reform process seriously or wholeheartedly:
"It'd be unfair to say we are not doing well."
In one step already
accepted, the Congress will elect a first permanent female member of
the executive committee from four candidates, while the 77-year-old
Blatter could indicate an intention to stand for another four-year term
as leader beyond 2015 despite pledging when re-elected in 2011 that this
would be his last.
The Swiss has been in charge of FIFA since 1998, and
could rally the Congress to back him to see through the reform process,
maybe gaining the beginnings of momentum in Mauritius to stand again
for re-election in two years' time and until 2019, when he will turn 83.
matters on the sidelines of the Congress will be the question of
sterner punishments for racism in football after the recent re-emergence
of the problem in Italy and the game's ongoing battle with
match-fixing, both of which are "high on the agenda," Blatter said.
preparations for the 2014 World Cup will be examined at both the
executive committee and the Congress. Setbacks at some of the showpiece
stadiums will prompt closer scrutiny, notably the arena in Sao Paolo
which was scheduled to open the tournament in a year's time and may now
miss its completion deadline.
FIFA also will make final plans for
next month's World Cup warm-up event in Brazil, the Confederations Cup.
On Monday, a small part of the roof collapsed at one of the stadiums set
to host matches in that event.
Meeting in a country famed for
being the home of the extinct Dodo bird, FIFA's sternest critics say the
governing body desperately needs to evolve if it isn't to suffer the
The body has made reforms to its ethics committee and
introduced a new code of behavior and vetting procedures since the
scandal-ravaged year and Congress in 2011.
Then, Blatter was re-elected
as president after the withdrawal of now disgraced former Asian football
boss Mohammed Bin Hammam.
There were also vote-rigging accusations
surrounding the choosing of Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022
World Cups respectively.
Some of the proposals to be voted on in
Mauritius include age and term limits for FIFA places, including the
presidency, while FIFA's new watchdog Audit and Compliance Committee
also met on Monday and will report after its first year of work.
Blatter has talked of FIFA's progress, the powerful body has been
criticised, both by the independent reformers it brought in and by
external groups like Transparency International for its method of
In an interview with the FIFA website fifa.com to start the
week of the Congress, Blatter still maintained his organisation was on
track and had "achieved a lot already."
"In fact, we are exactly
following the road map which was established at the FIFA Congress (in)
2011," Blatter said. "Since then, we have been transparent on what was
done and we have followed the majority of the recommendations made by
the Independent Governance Committee in this two-year process."
FIFA's 209 national associations will vote on another 10 areas of
reform at this Congress, Blatter made clear his opposition to one of
them, age limits for FIFA positions, saying they could be "seen as
"I've already said I was against the age limit as
I believe it is not a relevant criteria, not everyone is the same at
60, 70, 80," Blatter said. "Passion makes the difference."
opinion hinted at another presidential campaign for the apparently
evergreen septuagenarian, who will be closely watched through the week
for more certain signs of his ambitions.