Bach encourages FIFA to continue with reforms despite painful process

Lausanne, June 9 (IANS) International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has said he is not in the position to advise FIFA but has encouraged football’s world governing body to continue with its reforms amid a crisis – though the progress could be painful.

“It’s not up to the IOC to give advice. It’s just to remember that we had this kind of problems 15 years ago,” Bach was quoted as saying by Xinhua here on Monday.

“We can’t give detailed suggestion of what to do, but we appreciate there is a readiness for reforms,” the German told a press conference at the IOC headquarters in Laussane at the close of a two-day executive board meeting.

“We also know from our experience that … putting everything on the desk can be a painful experience, but it is absolutely necessary to do this as we have seen from our own history.”

Just less than one week ago, FIFA president Sepp Blatter resigned from the post he resumed for just two days in a fifth term after the Swiss police staged a dawn raid in Zurich to arrest seven FIFA senior officials on corruption charges filed by U.S. prosecutors.

In 1998, the IOC fell into its own bribes-for-votes scandal involving the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, which led to the ouster of 10 IOC members.

The IOC then undertook structural reforms to break away from its dark history, like to ban members from visiting bid cities, to create an ethics commission, as well as to introducing term limits and inclusion of athlete members on the committee.

“The structure of FIFA is very different from the IOC and the difference in the scope is huge. There is almost no comparison of what happened with Salt Lake City and what is now at stake with regards to FIFA,” said Bach.

“We had this kind of problem. We addressed it by introducing term limits, reducing the age limits, by having term limits not only for members but also members of the executive board and president.”

“One of the major steps in this reform was to have athletes electing their own representatives for the IOC executive board; we had the representatives of the international federations and of the national Olympic Committees.

“It means giving all the stakeholders in the Olympic movement the chance to express themselves.”

Also an IOC member, Blatter’s confirmed to skip Tuesday’s presentations from the 2022 Winter Games candidate cities Beijing and Almaty and the following-up discussion between memberships and the IOC evaluation commission.

Bach, however, played down the significance of the football boss’ absence.

“He informed us 10 to 14 days ago that he will not be able to make it for the briefing because of other commitments, and I think he is not the only one who excused himself,” said Bach.

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