ZURICH, Switzerland – FIFA President Sepp Blatter held a press conference this morning at the organization’s headquarters to announce a date for FIFA Congress elections as well as introduce various reforms in the wake of the ongoing corruption and bribery scandal facing the organization.
FIFA announced its Congress would hold elections on February 26, 2016 at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, including electing a new FIFA President. On June 2nd Blatter announced he was stepping down from the perch he has held for 16 years.
At today’s press conference Blatter reiterated previous statements he was not officially resigning and would serve in his post until a new president is elected.
Reforms announced include greater scrutiny in so called “integrity checks” for Executive Committee members, introducing term limits, and yet promulgated new governance standards for the organization itself, soccer federations and member associations. The embattled organization also announced it would require individual disclosure of compensation, but did not elaborate in what capacity such disclosure would be required.
FIFA will initiate reforms by setting up a task force with a neutral chairman appointed by FIFA after consultation from the presidents of other international soccer federations. The body of the task force will be composed of two representatives from AFC, CAF, CONCACAF and UEFA soccer federations, as well as of one representative from CONMEBOL and OFC soccer federations.
Specific reforms will be presented at the next FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich on September 24-25 and later submitted for approval.
During the press conference Sepp Blatter was heckled by a comedian Simon Brodkin acting as his prankster character “Lee Nelson”, who walked up to the podium and threw fake money in the air and exclaimed “for North Korea 2026”:
(vine courtesy of BBC Sport)
On June 10th FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke announced FIFA would postpone the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup amid the ongoing scandal that lead to the United States indicting nine top FIFA officials, including former FIFA vice president and member of Trinidad and Tobago parliament Jack Warner. U.S. authorities allege those nine former FIFA officials and five corporate executives ran a criminal enterprise that involved more than $150 million in bribes over 24 years.
The government of Switzerland simultaneously opened a separate investigation into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cup were awarded.
Sepp Blatter has not been accused of any wrongdoing by United States authorities, but Blatter did hire high powered U.S. attorney Richard Cullen to represent him shortly after announcing he was stepping down. Cullen is chairman of the law firm McGuireWoods, a former U.S. federal prosecutor, and has represented government officials in high-profile criminal investigations.
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