FIFA Names Anti-Corruption Panel; Valcke Warns Brazil 2014 Organisers

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U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, a loser in the 2022 World Cup bid race when USA lost out to Qatar, accepted a role on the panel (Getty)
(WFI) FIFA has named the members of its Independent Governance Committee that is charged with helping clean up the corruption-hit football governing body.

The representatives from the international football community and key figures from outside the sport were appointed by the chairman of the committee Mark Pieth, the man spearheading FIFA's reforms process on behalf of its president Sepp Blatter.

The anti-corruption panel includes: U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, an influential figure in the development of US soccer over the past 30 years; Leonardo Grosso, president of FIFPro, the global players' union; Lydia Nsekera, IOC member from Burundi, who has served as president of her country's football federation since 2004; and François Morinière, CEO of Groupe L’Équipe - Groupe Amaury, the market leaders in sport information.

Non-footballing figures are: Lord Peter Goldsmith, who served as the UK’s Attorney General from 2001-2007; Alexandra Wrage, founder of TRACE, an international non-profit association working with companies to raise their anti-bribery compliance standards; Michael Hershman, president of the Fairfax Group and an expert on matters relating to transparency, accountability, governance and security; as well as anti-corruption legal minds, Guillermo Jorge and James Klotz.

The Independent Governance Committee will work closely with the four task forces mandated to propose reforms by Blatter - Revision of Statutes, Ethics Committee, Transparency & Compliance, Football 2014. It will make proposals to the FIFA Executive Committee.

Blatter is trying to rebound from a year of turmoil at FIFA, which has been hit by a string of corruption allegations relating to the 2018/2022 World Cup bid race and, earlier this year, the FIFA presidential race. Last month, he faced calls for his resignation after saying racist incidents on the field could be settled with a handshake.

The 75-year-old Swiss admitted that he had regrets, saying the biggest mistake had been selecting Russia and Qatar as 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts at the same time.

Blatter promised to reform FIFA and root out corruption at his Zurich-based organization. "You must look
with a positive approach. I still have the energy to go forward. I believe myself that we can go forward," he was quoted as saying by AFP.

Meeting over the weekend in Tokyo, the FIFA Executive Committee also heard an update on Brazil's trouble-hit preparations for the 2014 World Cup from secretary general Jerome Valcke.

While stadia construction is progressing, FIFA has major concerns about Brazil's World Cup Law, which is set to include the necessary government guarantees regarding organization of the event. The piece of legislation has still to become law.

"As a consequence, the matter has now become a personal dossier of the FIFA presidency," FIFA said in a statement.

Valcke Sends Warning to Brazil 2014 Organisers

Valcke admitted today that 2012 would be "a fundamental year for FIFA and Brazil in the operational preparation for the two major football tournaments - the Confederations Cup 2013 and the 2014 World Cup".

"There is still a lot of work waiting for all of us in particular on general infrastructure such as airports and transport to make sure that all fans and visitors will have a memorable experience," he wrote in his latest column on FIFA.com.

In his oversight of Brazil 2014, Valcke said he planned to "get a personal view on the status of preparations during my planned host city visits to take place every two months next year".

"Because we have no time to rest, the clock is ticking ever faster and the anticipation is rising for all of us.

Key events next year include approval of the Brazilian government's “Bill 2014”, launch of the official 2014 slogan, the selection of the final FIFA Confederations Cup venues and the last three participants qualifying for the FIFA Confederations Cup.

He added: "The key for success will be in continuing our open and constant dialogue between the Brazilian authorities led by sports minister Aldo Rebelo as the man in charge of the FIFA World Cup in government and FIFA in the spirit of respect and cooperation which characterises our relations now."

In other FIFA Ex-Co decisions: Morocco was appointed as host of the 2013 and 2014 Club World Cups.

And following a discussion on the global development of women’s football, FIFA vice-president HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein has been invited to make a presentation about the hijab at next year’s annual meeting of the International Football Association Board on March 3 in England.

The next FIFA Executive Committee meeting is scheduled to be held in Zurich, March 29-30.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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