JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter took a swipe at European governing body UEFA on Sunday for what he said were attempts to block his reform process to make soccer’s governing body more transparent and less prone to corruption.
Blatter said he was surprised that UEFA, headed by Michel Platini who is a possible rival for the FIFA presidency in two years’ time, had declared itself against key proposals from FIFA’s reform working party the Independent Governance Committee (IGC).
UEFA, in a declaration last month, rejected a proposal to limit FIFA executive committee members to two four-year mandates and called for the FIFA president to serve a maximum of 12 years instead of the eight put forward by the IGC.
Blatter, who was in South Africa for Sunday’s African Nations Cup final, said it was UEFA’s job to consult their national associations, not to issue their own declaration on the proposals.
“The reform process is on the way to conclusion,” he told a media round-table meeting. “Two parts have been implemented by Congress: the establishment of an independent ethics committee and the fact Congress and not the executive committee will choose future World Cup hosts.
“Now there are 10 or 11 other points that have to be dealt with by the next FIFA Congress in Mauritius in May. So I’m surprised by the reaction of UEFA, because the executive committee told the confederations they should consult their national associations about the reforms and what they think about the last part of the amendments to the statutes.
“And I’m surprised because it did not seem like a consultation, it seemed like was decision-making from UEFA where the national associations have signed a declaration against this.
“The idea was that at the FIFA Congress, all national associations have the right to speak on the amendments in favor or against. We have asked the confederations to make consultations, we have not asked them to make decisions.
“If all the Confederations make decisions, what is the point of the FIFA Congress?”
Blatter was also angry that UEFA appeared to take a stand against security checks FIFA wants to introduce for anyone being elected to the executive committee, following a series of high-profile scandals involving FIFA officials.
“What is important to me, and I will defend it, is that all members of FIFA shall have a scrutiny check, because everyone working somewhere has one. All the referees and linesmen on the FIFA list have to have one and sign a document which is recognized by their national association.
“So if it is good enough for FIFA referees, why should it not be the same for the FIFA executive committee and all the members of FIFA? Why is UEFA now against this? I don’t understand it.”
Last week the IGC, headed by Mark Pieth, a professor in criminal law, said it was disappointed that UEFA was trying “to dilute the thrust of the reform”.
Blatter, 77 next month, declined on Sunday, not for the first time, to say that he would definitely stand down as president when his term of office ends in 2015.
Blatter was elected FIFA president in 1998 and will complete four terms of office in 2015.
Asked what his plans were, he replied: “As far as 2015 is concerned, no-one can see into the future but I will fight for the reform of FIFA and I will fight to keep what FIFA is now, a federation of national associations and not a holding of confederations (who make decisions). I will fight that until the last day of my mandate in 2015.
“My mandate ends in 2015, if God gives me my health, and I know I have to stop but I don’t know when I will stop.”
Editing by Clare Fallon