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Fifa reform chief says Blatter didn't approach him for role

Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 22:19
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The man tasked by Fifa with reforming international soccer's governing body said he has received guarantees that he can work independently and expects to name an independent advisory board at the end of September.

[GENEVA] The man tasked by Fifa with reforming international soccer's governing body said he has received guarantees that he can work independently and expects to name an independent advisory board at the end of September.

Francois Carrard, appointed last month as the chairman of Fifa's reform committee, told reporters in the Swiss capital Bern that he was approached for the role by a member of Fifa's executive committee, not Sepp Blatter, the soccer body's long- term president.

"My independence" comes from "the fact I have never had any professional kind of association with Fifa in any way," he said. "I have guarantees that I can work independently and now today I am satisfied that this committee is really working extremely hard."

Fifa has been in disarray since Swiss police in May arrested seven soccer officials wanted by US prosecutors on charges of racketeering and money laundering on the eve of the association's congress in Zurich. Though the event went ahead and Fifa delegates re-elected Sepp Blatter as president, days later he said he would resign once a new president is elected because he wants to "do the best for football."

With candidates now jostling to replace Blatter ahead of an election on Feb 26, Mr Carrard is leading the effort to improve transparency at Fifa even as Swiss prosecutors lead a separate criminal investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Mr Carrard will update Fifa's executive committee at the end of the month before the reform committee meets again in Bern Oct 16-18. The final reform proposals are not expected to be ready before December, he said.

Mr Carrard, a Swiss lawyer, previously was involved in the cleanup of the International Olympic Committee after a bidding scandal involving the Salt Lake City Winter Games. However, Mr Carrard's recent remarks on why the US prosecutors are so doggedly pursuing Fifa officials and on the game's relevance to Americans has raised eyebrows.

"For the US, soccer does not have the same weight as baseball, basketball or American football," he told Geneva newspaper Le Matin last month. "There, it's just an ethnic sport, for girls in schools."

Asked to clarify those comments, Mr Carrard said that he was trying to explain the historical roots of the sport in the US and his comments may have been misunderstood.

"Football in the US is extremely important and has known fantastic development," he said on Thursday.

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