Priority given to protection of FIFA principles and members

Under the leadership of its new chairman, FIFA Vice-President Geoff Thompson (England), the FIFA Associations Committee yesterday (28 October) discussed a number of cases and reaffirmed its dedication to uphold the principles laid down in the FIFA Statutes as well as protect its member associations from both internal and external forces.

In his opening remarks, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter praised the new chairman as being the perfect man to lead this important committee: "The Associations Committee is like a mini-congress of FIFA, as it is exclusively made up of association presidents," he said. "Having the vice-president representing the British associations, the motherland of the modern game, in the leadership role of protecting FIFA's members provides an excellent foundation for the future."

"We need to uphold our statutes for the protection of the game in countries that face difficulties, whether through internal strife or external governmental interference," said Mr Thompson. "We must be strong and we must be fair," he continued, "and with the support of my colleagues here, we will make a difference."

The primary focus of the meeting was to receive reports, discuss the many challenges facing FIFA's member associations around the world and decide upon the best steps forward to ensure progress in resolving the outstanding issues.

The following specific cases were discussed by the committee:

· American Samoa - The situation has in general been improving, especially since the restructuring of football in the country was initiated, including the redrafting of the statutes, thus paving the way for a new Football Federation of American Samoa (FFAS) to be established and an elective congress to be held in December 2007. The implementation of these changes will be closely monitored.

· Burkina Faso - The transitional committee, which was eventually recognised by FIFA and CAF on condition that the established road map was implemented, has demonstrated that it is serious about keeping the momentum moving forward toward a positive resolution. The statutes have been redrafted in accordance with the FIFA Standard Statutes and the association is planning to hold a congress in November to approve the statutes followed by an elective assembly in January 2008.

· Central African Republic - It was decided that a bureau of the FIFA Associations Committee would be set up to closely review the situation with CAF and decide on a path forward.

· Cyprus - The committee received a report on the 27 October 2007 meeting in Zurich at which FIFA was updated on the two meetings that have taken place between the Cyprus FA and Turkish Cypriot FA since their landmark meeting at the Home of FIFA on 20 September 2007 (see the FIFA.com story for details). Both sides have been demonstrating goodwill and making continual efforts to find "football" solutions within the framework of the FIFA and UEFA statutes to the challenges they face.

· Indonesia - FIFA sent a letter to the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) in June 2007 indicating that the association must reorganise elections, as the electoral process that took place on 20 April 2007 - the day after the ratification of the updated statutes - was not conducted in line with the timelines stipulated in the PSSI statutes. The committee ratified this decision and also decided that in accordance with the statutes, a person who has been convicted of a crime and is currently in prison would not be eligible to stand for election.

· Iran - Although the transitional committee succeeded in redrafting the statutes, which are now in line with the FIFA Standard Statutes, and organising their congressional ratification, the elections planned for 15 October were cancelled at short notice and without explanation. The committee recommended that disciplinary action be taken by the FIFA Executive Committee should the electoral process not be completed by the end of 2007.

· Kuwait - Contrary to the road map established by FIFA and the AFC, the Kuwaiti Public Authority for Youth and Sport has continued to interfere. Elections were held on 9 October in direct violation of the FIFA Executive Committee's May 2007 decision to the contrary. As a consequence, the committee recommend to the FIFA Executive Committee that the Kuwait Football Association be suspended.

· Oman - The committee was pleased to report that new statutes had been successfully drafted and approved and that the association had held democratic elections - the first ever in the Gulf region - on 30 September 2007. Therefore the committee has decided to close this case.

· Peru - Despite successful elections on 5 October 2007, interference from the sports minister has continued to hinder the proper functioning of the association. The committee decided that it would refer the matter to the FIFA Executive Committee and, in cooperation with CONMEBOL, continue to monitor the situation with a view to intervening to protect the game in Peru, if necessary.

· Togo - This troubled association still suffers from internal problems and governmental interference. As elections are planned for January 2008, FIFA will seek revisions to the statues to ensure that FIFA principles are upheld at the elective congress. FIFA and CAF will monitor the situation very closely.

· US Virgin Islands - A FIFA/CONCACAF mission will be sent to supervise the 1 December 2007 elective congress.

The FIFA President and the chairman also welcomed four new members to the committee, Armand Duka (Albania), Wellington Nyathanga (Zimbabwe), Salemane Phafane (Lesotho) and Mirabor Usmanov (Uzbekistan) and presented official FIFA member's pin to them.