Zurich - FIFA members have passed wide-ranging reforms to
protect against corruption and curb the powers of its new president.
Needing a 75 percent majority for approval, 89 percent voted
yes. FIFA says the ballot was 179-22 in favor.
The vote was taken after the Palestine soccer federation
argued for a delay to let the new president lead the process.
Outgoing president Sepp Blatter ordered the reform review in
June after American and Swiss federal investigations hit FIFA.
FIFA and its lawyers hope the reform will help show U.S.
prosecutors the soccer body is serious about changing its culture, and protect
its status as a victim in the American investigation.
Many decision-making powers will be stripped from the
president and executive committee, to be renamed the FIFA Council with more
Term limits of 12 years and stricter integrity checks will
also control top officials.
Acting FIFA secretary general Markus Kattner says staff
morale has been hit by a looming $550 million financial deficit.
Kattner tells the FIFA election congress there is
"general uncertainty that is affecting morale of the FIFA team."
He says "we are currently $550 million behind our
goals" to reach a budget target of $5 billion revenue from the 2018 World
Cup in Russia.
FIFA has not signed any new World Cup sponsors since the
2014 tournament in Brazil.
Also read: As FIFA eyes reform, corruption probes continue
Since American and Swiss federal investigations of
corruption hit FIFA last May, officials have cautioned that potential sponsors
would wait until after the election to replace Sepp Blatter before committing.
Kattner says FIFA is "optimistic of concluding
FIFA will publish its 2015 financial report next month. It
is expected to show a loss of at least $100 million.
On the day of the FIFA presidential election, security
forces are on the streets of Bahrain's capital in a sizeable show of force
rarely seen since the island nation's 2011 uprising.
Sheikh Salman, a member of Bahrain's ruling family, is one
of the favorites to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.
It's not clear what security forces were preparing for Friday
ahead of noon prayers, but travel within Manama was nearly impossible.
Sheikh Salman repeatedly has denied having any role in
Bahraini soccer players being identified and arrested during the 2011 crackdown
by the government led by his family, the island's Sunni rulers.
It also comes after security forces in eastern Saudi Arabia
killed a Bahraini man several days ago.
IOC President Thomas Bach has told soccer leaders that new
standards of governance are now required as they prepare to elect a new
In an attempt to prevent corruption, 207 nations were also
voting on reforms at soccer's governing body.
Bach told the FIFA extraordinary congress that "we live
in a world that is asking new questions ... you can't compare the standards of
good governance of yesterday with the requirements of today."
FIFA has been fighting for its future since leading officials,
including vice presidents, were indicted in a U.S. bribery and racketeering
Urging FIFA members to adopt the reforms, Bach says
"you have this great chance to turn the page and start a new chapter for
Sepp Blatter wasn't at the Zurich congress to hand over
power to a new FIFA president because he is serving a six-year ban from soccer
for financial mismanagement.
Bach says "you are electing your new team leader. Today
you are deciding your new game strategy."
Soccer leaders have gathered in Zurich to elect a new FIFA
president, with Asian confederation head Sheikh Salman the favorite to succeed
The presidential election is to begin at about 1300 GMT
following speeches by the five candidates.
Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term in May but, amid
escalating corruption scandals, bowed to pressure four days later and announced
he would resign. Blatter was subsequently banned for six years for financial
Before electing FIFA's first new president since 1998, the
207 nations eligible to vote will be asked to approve reforms intended to
prevent further corruption and bribery scandals.
Those include preventing presidents from serving more than
three four-year terms and reducing their powers.For
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