Blatter says FIFA officials should pass integrity checks
Jun. 19, 2015
LONDON (AP) — Sepp Blatter believes FIFA's top officials should be required to pass integrity checks as the governing body remains mired in scandal.
The measure was first recommended three years ago by FIFA's anti-corruption advisers but was rebuffed by the executive committee. Blatter, however, floated the idea again Friday in his column in the weekly in-house magazine as soccer's governing body again looks for reforms following a U.S.-led corruption investigation. But the 79-year-old Swiss did not address a recent report he could perform a U-turn and stand in the fresh presidential elections.
Four days after being elected for a fifth, four-year presidential term, Blatter abruptly announced plans on June 2 to stand down amid escalating criminal investigations into FIFA officials. FIFA said he stands by that statement.
An executive committee meeting on July 20 will set the election date, and Blatter said "decisions on extensive changes to the FIFA structure" will also be taken in Zurich.
Blatter said he will back introducing "independent integrity checks for all members of the most important FIFA committees." Confederations are already meant to screen officials, but a new system would likely see FIFA's ethics chairmen assessing them more rigorously.
Blatter said he was endorsing a proposal by executive committee member Wolfgang Niersbach, the German Football Association president.
Niersbach's suggestion was used by Blatter as a chance to take another swipe at UEFA, whose president, Michel Platini, led opposition to Blatter's re-election last month and is the favorite to succeed him.
Highlighting how Asia was the only regional body with an independent ethics body like FIFA, Blatter said other confederations "are lacking," and must "acknowledge their responsibility in matters of ethics."
"Niersbach has broached a subject that has so far been blocked by UEFA, of all associations. Better late than never," Blatter said. "The message he has thereby sent out must apply to everyone: Only together can we continue to drive the process of reform forward. That is something I will stand for until my final day in office."
Blatter also believes FIFA's 25-person ruling executive committee should be expanded to ensure Africa and Asia is better represented. There are only five African members and four from Asia.
"The future of FIFA has begun," Blatter said. "The key is to strengthen democracy within the 'FIFA government.'"
Liberia Football Association President Musa Bility on Thursday became the second person to declare his interest in the FIFA presidency after former Brazil star Zico. Candidates must be nominated by at least five of the 209 FIFA member associations and pass integrity checks to get on the ballot.
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris