Blatter promises FIFA reform details in October

Published Aug. 28, 2011 6:38 p.m. ET

After a year of scandal that has rocked world football, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Sunday that he will present detailed anti-corruption reforms in October.

Blatter told The Associated Press he will announce his reform agenda after an Oct. 20-21 meeting in Zurich with his executive committee colleagues - several of whom have been under suspicion.

''I will announce a road map of where we go and when we go,'' Blatter said, on the sidelines of his charitable foundation's annual football tournament.

Blatter promised to clean up world football when he was re-elected unopposed in June to get a fourth and final four-year presidential term.

His former election rival Mohamed bin Hammam withdrew amid allegations he tried to bribe Caribbean voters. The Qatari is appealing a life ban imposed by FIFA's ethics committee.

The bribery scandal also exiled FIFA vice president Jack Warner, the Trinidad and Tobago government minister who resigned rather than face football's justice.

FIFA is investigating 16 Caribbean officials for allegedly accepting $40,000 cash payments and has warned that more cases could follow.


''I'm very disappointed and very sad,'' Blatter said of the Caribbean region's damaged reputation. ''They are part of FIFA and I'm very concerned about that.''

Two more FIFA executive members, Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, were suspended last November after allegations of vote-trading in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid races.

Several more of Blatter's colleagues, who will vote on approving his reforms, have survived unproven allegations concerning bribes, unethical favors and vote-trading deals.

''It was a very difficult year,'' Blatter acknowledged, seeming relaxed and assured on a sunny day in his family's ancestral Alpine village, where the charity event was decorated with discreet ''Bravo Sepp'' banners.

''Now I am working on different items and I will present to the executive committee of FIFA during the meeting,'' he said.

Blatter chairs the 24-man panel which can change some anti-corruption rules, though altering FIFA's statutes must wait for approval from 208 national members at their Congress next May in Budapest.

Blatter sought advice from global anti-corruption group Transparency International, which published a comprehensive program it believed FIFA could and should follow.

Report author Sylvia Schenk called on FIFA to investigate past allegations of kickbacks and ticket scams, and create an independent oversight panel that included fans, sponsors and media members.

Schenk also recommended that FIFA protect whistleblowers, impose two-term limits for elected officials and publish details of all salaries and bonuses. Blatter's own financial package has never been revealed.

''I met her twice and people from my organization had good discussions with them,'' said the 75-year-old Blatter, who has led FIFA since 1998. ''They have a lot of recommendations but in transparency, what shall we do more?''

Blatter suggested he had pre-empted Schenk by proposing an oversight panel of so-called ''wise men,'' which could include former United States diplomat Henry Kissinger and opera singer Placido Domingo.

''I called it a solutions committee so it is not new,'' Blatter said.

Blatter said he has reached peace with his most vocal critic Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of German giant Bayern Munich and the European Club Association which has demanded a greater democratic say after feeling snubbed by FIFA in talks on football's future.

Rummenigge has questioned whether Blatter is fit to run the sport, and compared him to ousted Egypt president Hosni Mubarak in an interview with a Swiss monthly business magazine published last Friday.

''I don't want to fight with people,'' said Blatter, who said he hosted Rummenigge last Tuesday ahead of Bayern's Champions League playoff against FC Zurich. ''It was friendly. If he wants to attack FIFA, he knows where the door is. He can knock at the door and I receive people.''

Blatter said it was ''unfortunate'' for Rummenigge that he gave the latest interview before their meeting, but that their dispute ''was over for me'' before it was published.

In October, Blatter's executive committee meets for the first time since bin Hammam's ban, with Chinese official Zhang Jilong standing in for the Asian Football Confederation president.

It is unclear who will replace Warner after 28 years as the Caribbean delegate to complete the CONCACAF region's three-man quota.

''They must designate it now. We insisted a second time that they have to do this,'' Blatter said.

The veteran Swiss official said he accepted his workload with renewed confidence, after getting endorsement from 186 of 203 FIFA countries.

''I'm relaxed because the congress of FIFA has proven the unity of the football family. This same congress has given me the mandate for what I have to do,'' Blatter said. ''I believe in what I am doing, I believe in football and, finally, I am a very faithful man and I believe in God.''