Panic response

BFA disagrees with proposal to limit tenure at FIFA's helm

FIFA reform adviser Domenico Scala has suggested that future presidents of that organization have their terms in office limited in the wake of the corruption scandal engulfing the hierarchy of football’s governing body.

But president of the Barbados Football Association (BFA) Randy Harris disagrees with the proposal and says it is a panic response to what has transpired within FIFA in recent months.

Randy Harris
Randy Harris

Scala published a 29-page reform proposal yesterday in a rare show of FIFA transparency during a process now being led by veteran Olympic official Dr François Carrard.

Scala suggested a maximum of three four-year mandates to curb problems caused by people who “stayed too long in key positions”.

“It cuts those relationships and political dependencies that go with too-long terms of office,” Scala said.

Sepp Blatter had been FIFA president for 17 years when he won a fifth term in May. Within days, Blatter announced he would resign amid pressure on FIFA from American and Swiss investigations of corruption in international soccer.

Michel Platini, the current front-runner to replace Blatter, is in his 14th year as a FIFA executive committee member.

But Harris told Barbados TODAY he did not support Scala’s proposals, suggesting that had not FIFA been engulfed in its present strife, such a proposal would not have been made.

The BFA boss noted that in an organization of the size and reach of FIFA, there was always the possibility in “big world opportunities” that there will be instances where gifts will be given to get one concession or the other. He explained that putting a curb on the number of years that an individual run the organization would not in itself prevent such occurrences.

“If FIFA is looking at reforms, I don’t see how that would benefit. I think that it is a panicked response that would not have come to the table under normal circumstances,” Harris said.

Harris said that during the lengthy reign of Blatter, CONCACAF, Asia and the African continents had benefited because of the interest that he had placed in those respective federations. He noted that Scala’s proposal meant that one would be limiting a president to specific terms of office even if his tenure was benefiting football across the globe.

Quizzed as to whether the BFA was fearful that Blatter’s replacement might not place such emphasis on his CONCACAF region, Harris said it was not a concern. He explained that a new president who wanted to really make an impact on world football would need more than a four-year term and would depend on the CONCACAF, Asian and African federations for continued support.

“We have development programmes that have already started and are continuing initiatives, so they would not be affected by changes at the top of FIFA. There is no real worry there and if anything we expect things to be getting better for football,” he said.

Scala also wants future FIFA presidents and executive committee members to reveal all their football-related income to the governing body.

The numbers would not be made public under Scala’s proposal. Instead, the FIFA financial report would list income categories identified by a letter.

Thus far two high profile members of CONCACAF have been indicted in the FIFA corruption scandal, former FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF boss Austin “Jack” Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and his successor, Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands.

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