Football: Fifa members approve changes in role of its president and executive committee

The Fifa logo outside the Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, on Dec 17, 2015.
The Fifa logo outside the Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, on Dec 17, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH (AFP) - Fifa approved major reforms at a congress on Friday, part of world football's effort to end the culture of corruption that has plagued its governing body for years.

The measures were adopted by 179 members, while 22 voted against and six abstained at a congress in Zurich that will also elect a replacement to Fifa's disgraced president Sepp Blatter.

The reforms were developed since June by a committee led by Francois Carrard, a Swiss lawyer tasked with a similar clean-up effort at the International Olympic Committee more than a decade ago.

Among the most crucial measures are changes in the role of Fifa's president and its executive committee.

The president's job has been altered to function like a corporate chairman of the board, providing strategic guidance but with less management authority.

Fifa's executive committee, which had become an epicentre of graft, has been re-branded as a Fifa council, and will operate similar to a corporate board of directors.

Fifa's secretary general, previously No. 2 to the president, will serve as world football's CEO.

Those measures were designed to contain the authority of Fifa's top brass in a bid to prevent a repeat of the patronage and waste that prevailed during Blatter's 18-year term as president.

The president and council members will also be limited to three consecutive four-year terms.

Several measures to improve financial transparency at the multi-billion dollar organisation were also approved.

Revenues will be published, as will compensation for senior officials, while auditing will be more independent and more robust.

The number of commissions, seen as bloated and wasteful in the past, has been cut from 26 to nine.

There was also a mandate to expand the role of women in global football governance, with at least one woman required on the council of each national federation.

Broadly, the reforms include measures to promote "culture change" at Fifa, as well as more ethical and accountable leadership.

There were calls to end political interference and conflicts of interest in executive decision making, two factors that most agree led Fifa into crisis.

Before the vote, a Palestinian representative addressed the congress to lobby against approving the reforms, arguing that a period of crisis was the wrong time to push through a major restructuring.