Ahead of this week’s FIFA Congress 2013 in Mauritius, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter spoke about some of the key issues to be addressed. Here, among other topics covered, the FIFA President underlines his backing of the reform process, the bidding process for the FIFA World Cup™ and the ongoing fight against racism.
FIFA.com: President, just before the FIFA Congress 2013, do you consider the reform process is now over?
In fact, we are exactly following the road map which was established at the FIFA Congress 2011. Since then, we have been transparent on what was done and we have followed the majority of the recommendations made by the Independent Governance Committee in this two-year process. So I’m extremely proud to say this process will conclude at the 2013 FIFA Congress. However, this does not mean that FIFA will stop adapting and taking measures with regards to governance, and in regards sport politics.
*What about the measures which are still under review? *Ten reform areas identified by the Task Force Revision of the Statutes are on the agenda of this year’s Congress. There has been an extensive consultation process observed in order to receive input from the member associations, who ultimately are the ones voting. We have a democratic process in place, we follow it. Between 2011 and 2013, I made a lot of effort to take this reform process as far as I could, but it is now up to the FIFA Congress to decide on these measures.
*How do you take the criticisms from Transparency International? *I think criticisms are useful when they are constructive and I understand Transparency International pushes for more. They have their own idea on how the reform process could have been done, I acknowledge that. However, I believe in our process, we achieved a lot already and the system in place works well. I think it’d be unfair to say we are not doing well.
Two of the remaining items are hot topics: the term of office and the age limit. What is your position on these?
Well, it’s not up to me, as I said we are in a democratic process with the Member Associations voting. However, personally, I’ve already said I was against the age limit as I believe it is not a relevant criteria, not everyone is the same at 60, 70, 80, etc. It could even be seen as discriminatory. Passion makes the difference. However I am not against a limitation of a number of mandates, this rule applies in many democracies in fact. But then it should apply to everybody.
*The bidding process for the FIFA World Cups is also in this list… *Yes, but in fact things are pretty clear on the topic now, the Congress will have the final decision to choose the host, not the Executive Committee anymore. This is one of the key decisions taken during this reform process. Other than that, I already stated that I think we had made a mistake to group two tournaments last time.
*Since 2011 and the start of these reforms, there has been quite a number of Executive Committee members who resigned or who were suspended. How do you explain this? *This follows the work of the independent Ethics Committee. That shows the process towards more integrity is on track and nothing will stop it.
*What other topics discussed in Mauritius do you consider will be important? *A resolution to fight against racism and any form of discrimination in football shall be adopted, and this is crucial. This resolution shall be binding for all member associations. The three proposals made by the Task Force at its first meeting on 6 May make pure sense. Because even if we have always to work on education to eradicate the issue of anti-discrimination, I believe we need to have stronger sanctions. In my view, fines achieve little and, on the contrary, point deductions and exclusion from competitions could be more effective measures. The issue of match manipulation will also be high on the agenda of the Congress. This scourge is not an issue of society. It is an issue of football, which we need to fight against strongly. For this, it requires solidarity within the football community and the help of public authorities.
The proposal to ensure a better representation of women in the FIFA Executive Committee shall be a great step further. Parity is now pushed in every democratic organisation in the world, I don’t see why it should not be the case at FIFA.