Blatter Fails to Convince in Reforms Speech; Wants Alternative to Penalty Shootouts
May 25, 2012
Blatter speaking at the FIFA Congress (WFI)
(WFI) One year after re-election as FIFA president following a spate of corruption scandals, Sepp Blatter claims that his governance reforms are on track and FIFA's ship is sailing out of troubled waters "into the port of tranquility & stability".
Blatter opened the 62nd FIFA Congress in Budapest referencing last year's congress in Zurich, saying there had a need "not to have a change but to adapt our organisation especially the governance to the modern times".
Last June he spoke of FIFA's ship being in troubled water after a wave of corruption scandals rocked the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding contest and presidential election campaign, blackening the governing body's image and marking a new low in its 108-year history.
Taking up his maritime theme today, Blatter said: "I am sure with your help at the end of the congress we will have brought back our boat into the port of tranquility, stability and sustainability."
In his president's address, the 76-year-old FIFA chief talked of tackling the problems together and finding solutions, pointing to his reforms process that includes four taskforces and an Independent Governance Committee.
"We are in this reforms process and I invite you to take the responsibility together with government and to go forward that we can say at the end of this congress that we have made a big, big step forward," he said.
"If we have the will to do so, we can do it," Blatter added.
It was a meandering speech, barely scripted and unconvincing when what he needed was to offer more concrete assurances that FIFA was cleaning its house.
Blatter repeated himself endlessly in pressing home the point that his reforms plans were progressing, concluding with the line: "Let's go forward together to a bright and better future
Representatives of FIFA's 208 member nations present will vote to approve some of the reforms later today. But the completion of the reforms process will not conclude until May 2013 at FIFA Congress in Mauritius.
The Swiss was unopposed in last June's presidential election after Mohamed Bin Hammam was first suspended amid bribery allegations and subsequently handed a lifetime FIFA ban.
It followed an ethics commission probe that found him guilty of trying to bribe Caribbean Football Union members in exchange for their votes in his bid to oust Blatter in the FIFA presidential election.
Prior to the election, nearly one-third of FIFA's 24-man executive had been hit with bribery allegations relating to the 2018/ 2022 World Cup bidding contest. Several members were sanctioned and CONCACAF president Jack Warner quit FIFA before he could face ethics charges.
Blatter: "We trust Brazil"
In discussion of FIFA's ongoing work, Blatter and secretary general Jerome Valcke also passed comment on Brazil's trouble-hit 2014 World Cup preparations.
"It's not all so easy as we hoped, but we show we can trust the government and organisers," Blatter said.
Since Valcke's apology for saying in March that Brazil needed a "kick up the backside" to accelerate work across the project, FIFA has beefed up its own 2014 organising committee to bring on board a Brazilian government representative. Blatter wants FIFA's Brazilian Executive Committee member Marco Polo Del Nero to take a more hands-on role.
Earlier this month, day-long talks between FIFA chiefs and World Cup organisers resulted in "a detailed road map with concrete measures aimed at addressing the challenges identified to ensure efficient preparations". The respective leaders of FIFA, the Brazil 2014 LOC and the government will now meet every six weeks for talks about Confederations Cup and World Cup progress.
Speaking today, Valcke said the new FIFA structure was a "partnership which is stronger with the government".
"We trust Brazil that they will do it. And you?," Blatter asked delegates to widespread applause.
Blatter Questions Need for Penalty Shootouts
In other news from the congress, Blatter said he was keen on finding alternatives to penalty shootouts to decide football matches. His comments came after Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties in a dramatic finale to last Saturday's Champions League final.
"Football can be a tragedy when you go to penalty kicks," Blatter told delegates. "Football should not go to one to one, when it goes to penalty kicks football loses its essence."
He has asked Franz Beckenbauer, head of FIFA's 2014 Task Force, to find an alternative that could be brought in for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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