FIFA leaders met Monday to decide a date for an election to replace president Sepp Blatter and reform steps as football’s world body confronts its biggest corruption crisis.
‘Anyone who says I’m corrupt without evidence should be put in prison,’ says Blatter ‘Anyone who says I’m corrupt without evidence should be put in prison,’ says Blatter.
Blatter was to announce the date after the meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, which came just two days after a former vice president Jeffrey Webb appeared in a New York court accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes.
The election is to be held between December of this year and March 2016.
The 79-year-old president, who stunned the world by announcing he would stand down just four days after being reelected to a fifth term on May 29, is believed to want a vote at a special congress in 2016.
European and some other delegates on the 25-member FIFA government would prefer a December vote however.
Blatter and FIFA vice presidents, including his rival Michel Platini, the UEFA chief, discussed the date in informal talks on Sunday night.
Only former Brazilian international and sports minister Zico has so far declared himself a candidate. But Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, a former vice president who stood against Blatter in May, and Platini are considering runs.
Domenico Scala, independent head of FIFA’s audit committee, has been drawing up possible reforms to boost confidence in FIFA’s tainted image.
These include term limits for the president and other top officials and releasing more information such as the salaries of FIFA leaders.
The executive committee was to discuss whether changes should be pursued straight away or wait until after the election.
Monday’s is only the second executive committee since a raid on a Zurich hotel two days before Blatter’s election in which seven officials including Webb were detained.
Webb, who comes from the Cayman islands, was extradited to the United States last week ahead of his court appearance. He denied all the charges and was released on a $10 million (£6.4m, 9.2m euros) bail.
US prosecutors have laid charges against 14 FIFA officials and sports marketing company executives over bribes totalling more than $150 million paid for lucrative marketing contracts.
Brazilian executive committee member Marco Polo del Nero was again missing from the meeting.
Del Nero left Zurich a day after the May 27 raid in which which former Brazilian federation president Jose Maria Marin was among those detained.
Top sponsors, such as Coca Cola and McDonald’s, have called for radical changes in the way the multi-billion dollar world body is run after years of scandal and doubts cast on the way the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.
The US Senate also debated the FIFA scandal last week, highlighting the extent of the world football body’s tarnished reputation.
Coca Cola has called for an independent commission chaired by an “eminent” person to undertake reforms.
Fast food giant McDonald’s said it has called for FIFA to make “meaningful changes to restore trust and credibility with fans and sponsors alike.”
The Transparency International advocacy group has also called for FIFA’s reforms to be handled by an independent body.