London: European soccer federations have been accused of trying to water down reforms aimed at making the sport's governing body FIFA more transparent and less prone to corruption. The Independent Governance Committee (IGC), appointed by FIFA to put forward suggestions for reform, said on Friday it was "disappointed" at a recent declaration unanimously adopted by European soccer's governing body UEFA and its 53 members.
In the declaration last month, UEFA rejected a proposal to limit FIFA executive committee members to two four-year mandates. UEFA also called for the FIFA president to serve a maximum of 12 years compared to the suggested eight put forward by the IGC.
"The IGC is disappointed at the tendency of some confederations and member associations (e.g. UEFA and its members) to attempt to dilute the thrust of the reform," said a statement issued by the committee. The IGC stresses that governance reform is just as much a change of culture as of legal texts. In order to ensure that the process is continued, it needs to be supported on ongoing bases by an independent body."
UEFA was also criticised for its stance on integrity checks for elected FIFA officials after saying that "if needed" they should be conducted by the respective continental confederations. The IGC report said integrity checks should be automatic and conducted by a centralised, independent body.
"It is indispensable... that the president and all members of the executive committee as well as the standing committees of FIFA undergo an integrity check performed by an independent body within FIFA centrally prior to their (re-) election."
The IGC said that two independent members should attend FIFA executive committee meetings and that it would welcome steps to make football's rule-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), "more democratic and transparent."
FIFA is due to discuss the proposed reforms at its annual Congress in Mauritius in May. The IGC was created in November 2011 and his headed by Mark Pieth, a professor in criminal law at the independent Basel Institute on Governance.