Soccer-Hayatou urges world soccer to embrace reforms on eve of FIFA vote

Thu Feb 25, 2016 6:15am EST
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By Simon Evans

ZURICH Feb 25 (Reuters) - Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou on Thursday urged soccer leaders on Thursday to adopt reforms to restore credibility to the sport's world governing body after the worst corruption scandal in its history.

Hayatou appealed to FIFA members in what he called one of the most important weeks in the history of global football, as they prepare to elect a new president on Friday.

He called on them to approve the reforms on governance at Friday's congress, including the introduction of term limits for top officials and disclosure of earnings.

"I urge each of you to support the reforms in full here this week, and then to implement them to their entirety at home," Hayatou said in an address aimed at the six confederations that run soccer around the world.

"This will send a strong message that we have listened and that we are taking the action necessary to give football the foundation, and protection, it needs for the future."

World soccer was plunged into crisis last year after several dozen officials were indicted for corruption in the United States and a criminal investigation was begun in Switzerland.

Long-term FIFA president Sepp Blatter, whose 18-year tenure officially ends this week, on Wednesday lost his appeal against an eight-year ban for ethics violations, although the 79-year-old's ban was reduced to six years.

Five candidates are standing to replace Blatter to try to lead FIFA out of its crisis. Gianni Infantino, the Swiss general secretary of European governing body UEFA, and Asian soccer boss Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain are seen as the favourites.

South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale, former French diplomat Jerome Champagne and Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan are the other candidates. (Writing by Ossian Shine in London; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)