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US lawyer Gandhi said to join Fifa task force

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Samir Gandhi, the American lawyer who is reorganizing scandal-hit regional soccer body Concacaf, has been nominated to join the task force that will suggest reforms at Fifa, the ruling body that's seeking to recover from the worst crisis in its 111-year history.

Mr Gandhi, a partner in New York at Sidley Austin LLP, and Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, will represent Concacaf on the panel, according to a person familiar with the matter. Concacaf is soccer's governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The push for reform follows the arrest in May of senior Fifa officials on accusations by the US Department of Justice of more than two decades of corruption.

Each of soccer's six regional federations will nominate representatives to the task force, which has until September to make suggestions to Fifa's decision-making executive board. The panel, whose formation was announced by Fifa on July 20, has yet to hold a meeting.

Fifa has struggled to find a suitable independent candidate to lead the task force. On Thursday, former International Olympic Committee Director General Francois Carrard said he'd been approached to take on the role and would make a decision next week.

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"The composition of the task force is still a work in progress," Fifa said in a statement.

Also on Thursday, the Confederation of African Football said executive committee members Hany Abu Rida from Egypt and Constant Omari of the Democratic Republic of Congo would be its representatives.

European governing body UEFA, whose president Michel Platini is the favorite to replace Sepp Blatter as Fifa president, has yet to reveal its candidates for the reform group.

Neither have the groups responsible for soccer in Asia and Oceania. Reuters reported 81-year-old Australian Kevan Gosper, a former IOC vice president, would be one of the Asian Football Confederation's nominees.

South American body Conmebol is nominating Wilmar Valdez and Gorka Villar, the president and director general respectively of the Uruguay Football Association. Villar's father is the head of the Spanish federation and a member of Fifa's executive committee.

The task force has just over a month to devise proposals to take to the executive committee, which will choose reforms to be put to a full vote of Fifa's 209 members at a special congress in February, when the new president will be elected.

Nine Proposals Fifa's executive board in July said it agreed in principal with nine proposals formulated and published last month by Domenico Scala, its head of audit and compliance, including term limits for top officials, a new centralized integrity checking mechanism for office holders and publishing executive pay. All those measures were rejected in the past.

Separately, Fifa has asked US law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to investigate operations at the soccer body's headquarters in Zurich, according to another person familiar with the situation.

The law firm doesn't have jurisdiction over member associations and confederations, where the majority of crimes alleged by US authorities were committed, according to the official, who asked not to be identified because the probe is confidential.

Fifa said it is cooperating with criminal investigations in the US and Switzerland. The internal probe is a condition of Fifa's cooperation with US investigators, the person said, adding the results would be kept from Blatter and shared with only three officials, Fifa's top lawyer Marco Villiger, ethics investigator Cornel Borbely and Scala.

Quinn Emanuel didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.


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