The U.S. prosecutor in charge of the FIFA corruption investigation warned the global soccer organization Tuesday against “superficial” attempts at change, hours after it formally appointed former Olympic committee official Francois Carrard to head its 12-person reform task force. Critics have questioned the sincerity of FIFA’s reform effort, as well as the independence of its task force officials.
“Superficial changes at FIFA to its statues will not be sufficient and, likewise, mere changes of personnel in certain positions without a genuine commitment to good governance will not be sufficient. And, as our investigation continues, we will be looking at what reforms are adopted and how they are implemented,” said Kelly Currie, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, who led efforts to indict nine current and former FIFA executives on corruption charges in May, Reuters reported.
The U.S. Justice Department indicted the group on bribery charges related to the sale of media and sponsorship rights to FIFA events. Longtime FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced in June that he would leave office as fallout from the indictments escalated, but he also vowed to lead the organization’s effort at self-reform. A mix of corporate sponsors and campaign organizations called on FIFA to submit to an external oversight committee, but international soccer’s governing body has so far resisted.
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Instead, FIFA announced the formation of a 12-person reform task force, composed of officials it selected from its regional confederations. Carrard, who served as the International Olympic Committee’s director-general from 1989 to 2003 and led the organization through its own corruption scandal, will lead the panel.
“It is vital for the future of global [soccer] to restore the integrity and reputation of its governing body. As the independent chairman, I am committed to delivering the necessary package of credible reforms, working with representatives from within [soccer] and wider society,” Carrard said in a FIFA news release.
Carrard’s team will recommend reforms to FIFA’s executive committee for consideration in late September, the BBC reported. The recommendations could include an implementation of term limits for executive committee members, greater transparency regarding FIFA executive compensation and background checks for prospective officials. Ultimately, FIFA will decide which reforms it will enact.