Before Sepp Blatter resigns as FIFA president sometime in the next year, handing the reigns over to a newly-elected leader, he’ll have the chance to be a major part of changes to the infrastructure of soccer’s governing body.
And while there’s a very good chance, in our opinion, that he’ll be forced to step away from that sooner than expected — FIFA says the earliest we can expect an election is December — Blatter’s speech on Tuesday introduced us to the idea of a man named Domenico Scala helping him in a big way.
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“I cannot do this alone. I have asked Domenico Scala to oversee the introduction and implementation of these and other measures. Mr Scala is the Independent Chairman of our Audit and Compliance Committee elected by the Fifa Congress. He is also the Chairman of the ad hoc Electoral Committee and, as such, he will oversee the election of my successor. Mr Scala enjoys the confidence of a wide range of constituents within and outside of Fifa and has all the knowledge and experience necessary to help tackle these major reforms.”
Scala is a Swiss-Italian businessman who serves as the independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee. Born in 1965, he’s business-first and soccer-second.
Here’s Scala’s response, a long missive which does not distance him from Blatter. From FIFA.com:
“Before I begin, I would like to thank the President. The decision that he has made today was difficult and courageous. In the current circumstances, this is the most responsible way to ensure an orderly transition. I know that he has truly acted with the best interests of FIFA and football in his heart.
“I have a great amount of respect for the President and the role that he has played in championing reform within FIFA. As he has recognised, we have worked hard to put in place governance reforms. But this has not been enough.
“By making this announcement, he has created an opportunity for us to go further than FIFA has before – to fundamentally change the way in which FIFA is structured.
“As the independent Chairman of the Audit and Compliance committee, I am committed to working to facilitate the implementation of the reforms that the President has outlined and to putting in place the conditions for the election of a new President.
“As the President has stated, these reforms will include fundamental changes to the way in which this organisation is structured – steps that go far beyond the actions that have been implemented to this point. I would like to provide you with additional details into the process that FIFA will follow moving forward.
“Under the rules governing FIFA, the election of the President and any fundamental reforms to the FIFA statutes must be voted on by the Members at the FIFA Congress. The next FIFA Congress is scheduled for May 2016 in Mexico City. As the President has stated, this would be an unnecessary delay. In order to facilitate more immediate action, the President will ask the Executive Committee to organise an Extraordinary Congress in order to elect the new President and vote upon these reforms.
‘Based upon the FIFA statutes, a four-month notice is required for any presidential elections to be held. FIFA must also consider appropriate time to vet candidates and allow them to present their ideas for the organisation that set forth their vision. Therefore, while the decision on timing of the Extraordinary Congress and election of a new President will ultimately be up to the Executive Committee, the expectation is that this could take place anytime from December of this year to March of next year.
“For years, FIFA has worked hard to put in place governance reforms, but as the President has stated, this must go further to implement deep-rooted structural change. The President has outlined a number of specific recommendations to achieve this. A number of these steps have previously been proposed but have been rejected by Members. Today more than ever, FIFA is committed to ensuring that these changes are implemented and upheld.
“As part of FIFA’s work, the organisation will re-examine the way in which it is structured. While it would be premature to speculate on the outcomes of this work, nothing will be off the table, including the structure and composition of the Executive Committee and the way in which members of the Executive Committee are elected. I expect this to be an important aspect of ongoing reform. As I said a year ago, the structure of the Executive Committee and its Members are at the core of the current issues that FIFA is facing. Current events only reinforce my determination to drive this reform.
“Many of the issues that have been raised in the past relate to the actions of individuals. In order to ensure that those who represent FIFA are of the highest integrity, FIFA will seek to implement FIFA-driven integrity checks for all Executive Committee members. Such a reform was previously proposed by the Independent Governance Committee but was rejected by the Confederations. Today these checks are the responsibility of the confederations to which these members belong. This must change. Confederations actions must be consistent with their speech.
“While FIFA operates in line with all applicable laws and international accounting standards, FIFA recognises that many have questioned the transparency by which FIFA operates. To address specific calls, FIFA will seek to publicize the compensation of the President and the Executive Committee Members and will propose term limits for the President and Executive Committee members.
“FIFA is fundamentally committed to change and are determined to address the issues that continue to undermine FIFA and football more broadly.
“Today, the President communicated his decision to all 209 Members. Now is the time for FIFA to move forward. There is significant work to be done in order to regain the trust of the public and to fundamentally reform the way in which people see FIFA. These steps will ensure that the organization cannot be used by those seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of the game.”
It’s important that Blatter’s departure not be a “get out of jail free” card for the rest of FIFA. Do Scala’s comments make you think anything major will change? Or is it just lip service?
Keep checking ProSoccerTalk for the latest, as we continue to cover the shocking news that Blatter’s time is up.