ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA officials gave no clues on Sunday over what to expect from a key meeting on Monday which is expected to choose a date for the presidential election and discuss reforms to soccer’s discredited governing body.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter chaired a preliminary meeting of the presidents of the six continental confederations at the headquarters of soccer’s governing body, their first since his shock announcement on June 2 that he intended to quit.
However, none of the officials returning to the luxurious Baur au Lac hotel would comment on how the meeting went or what was discussed.
Those included UEFA president Michel Platini, widely expected to be one of the candidates to replace Blatter who has been in power since 1998.
The former France captain, who has repeatedly ducked out of discussing a possible candidacy ever since Blatter’s announcement, smiled at reporters in the hotel lobby but would not make any comment on his plans.
Platini, once seen as a Blatter protege, has turned against the 79-year-old Swiss and is now among his leading critics.
Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term on May 29, only to announce four days later that he would lay down his mandate at an extraordinary FIFA Congress which will take place between December and February.
The Congress will choose a new president, Blatter having repeatedly said that he will not stand. Candidates must declare their intention to stand, and present support, four months before the election.
The exact date is set to be decided on Monday at a meeting of FIFA’s executive committee.
UEFA is the biggest continental block on FIFA’s executive committee with eight of the 25 places and has given little away over what it will negotiate for, although it appears to favor an early election in December to begin the reforms as quickly as possible.
However, Blatter has already said that a December election would clash with the Club World Cup, a FIFA tournament in Japan, and that he would prefer it to take place in January.
Monday’s meeting must also discuss proposed reforms to the FIFA statutes which will be recommended by Blatter and Domenico Scala, head of FIFA’s watchdog audit and compliance committee.
Scala wants these reforms to include changes in the way the executive committee is chosen as well as integrity checks for members, potentially leading to a clash with UEFA.
The executive committee will be at least one short of its 25 voting members on Monday after Brazil’s Marco Polo del Nero said he was staying at home to attend to domestic issues.
Del Nero, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, also missed the FIFA Congress in May in Zurich. He left Switzerland shortly after his predecessor Jose Maria Marin was among seven people arrested at their hotel after being indicted on corruption charges in the United States.
Marin and five others are still detained while Switzerland considers a request from the United States for their extradition.
The seventh, former FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb, has already been extradited and on Saturday pleaded not guilty in a U.S federal court and was released on a $10 million bond.
Editing by Alan Baldwin