Zurich - FIFA's leadership held talks on reforms Wednesday
as sponsors who provide hundreds of millions of dollars demanded independent
leadership of changes to football's scandal-tainted governing body.
The FIFA executive committee -- with president Sepp Blatter
and vice president Michel Platini both suspended -- is holding two days of
talks to discuss reforms proposed by top sporting official Francois Carrard who
was named by the world body.
But top sponsors Anheuser-Busch, Adidas, Coca-Cola,
McDonald's and Visa said reforms should be "subject to independent
The multi-nationals are reportedly angry that they have not
been given places on FIFA's reform committee. They have in the past threatened
to review their football deals.
In October, Carrard's panel proposed limiting president
terms at 12 years and barring those over 74 from serving on the executive. It
also suggested the pay package of top officials be published annually and independently
Also read: FIFA, scared by scandal, looks at reform
- Reform doubts -
The executive committee will decide whether to send the
reform package for adoption at a special FIFA congress on February 26, when
Blatter's replacement will be chosen.
The meeting is being held on the fifth anniversary of the
2010 vote that controversially awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the
2022 tournament to Qatar.
That decision set off a cascade of allegations of corruption
and political skullduggery.
Swiss authorities are investigating the 2010 votes and have
also charged Blatter with criminal mismanagement at FIFA. Platini is named in
the investigation over a two million dollar payment made for FIFA advisory work
for which there was no contract.
In parallel, US authorities have charged 14 FIFA officials
and sports business executives over more than $150 million in bribes paid for
marketing contracts. Seven officials were detained at a FIFA congress in Zurich
Sponsors are not the only group to express concern over the
reform measures being undertaken by FIFA.
"We urge you to embrace positive changes and also
recognize that this is just one step toward creating a credible future for
FIFA," the sponsors said in a letter to the world body.
"Transparency, accountability, respect for human rights,
integrity, leadership and gender equality are crucial to the future of FIFA.
Reforms can set the proper framework for these characteristics, but a cultural
change is also needed."
A FIFA spokesman said in response that sponsors had already
played "an important part" in the FIFA reform committee and that they
would "continue to play an important role in the reform process."
Other groups also doubt the Carrard panel, dominated by
officials nominated by regional confederations, will be able to press through
"What is actually needed is an independent set of
executives that have no ties in world football, walking in and cleaning this
place up," said Declan Hill, author of "The Fix: soccer and organised
The Transparency International activist group's chief Cobus
de Swardt predicted Carrard's committee "will likely avoid taking some
hard decision about changing the way FIFA does business", because doing so
could affect the committee members themselves.
Meanwhile, Jack Warner, a central figure in FIFA corruption
accusations, faces a hearing in Trinidad and Tobago on whether he will be
extradited to the United States to face bribery charges.
Warner, a businessman, politician and former kingpin in
Caribbean football and in the American confederation, is accused of taking
millions of dollars in underhand payments from various sources.
A former FIFA vice president, he was banned for life by the
world body in September.For
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