LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach encouraged FIFA to continue with its reforms on Monday but warned soccer’s scandal-plagued governing body that the process would be painful.
Bach added that he did not want to give advice to FIFA and pointed out that the structures of the two organizations were enormously different and difficult to compare.
“We can only encourage FIFA to continue (with) the reforms which have been initiated, we cannot give detailed advice of what to do but we appreciate there is a readiness for reforms,” he told a news conference.
“We also know from our experience that.... putting everything on the desk can be a painful experience, but it is absolutely necessary to do this as we have seen from our own history.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter resigned last Tuesday, less than one week after Swiss police staged a dawn raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich and arrested several officials on corruption charges filed by U.S. prosecutors in New York.
In 1998, the IOC was caught in its own bribes-for-votes scandal involving the 2002 Salt Lake City winter Olympics. That was the catalyst that led to wholesale reforms within the organization.
“The structure of FIFA is very different from the IOC and the difference in the scope is huge. There is almost no comparison of what happened with Salt Lake City and what is now at stake with regards to FIFA,” said Bach.
“We had this kind of problem (and) we addressed it... by introducing term limits, reducing the age limits, by having term limits not only for members but also members of the executive board and president,” added Bach.
“One of the major steps in this reform (was) to have athletes electing their own representatives for the IOC executive board; we had the representatives of the international federations and of the national Olympic Committees.
“It means giving all the stakeholders in the Olympic movement the chance to express themselves.”
Bach played down the significance of Blatter’s decision not to attend the presentation of 2022 Winter Olympic candidates cities Almaty and Beijing to IOC members on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“He informed us 10 to 14 days ago that he will not be able to make it for the briefing... because of other commitments, and I think he is not the only one who excused himself,” said Bach.
editing by Justin Palmer