FIFA has asked Swiss lawyer François Carrard, the International Olympic Committee’s former director-general, to lead its reform task force, a report said Thursday. If he accepts, Carrard will lead an 11-person investigatory unit that will make recommendations about how FIFA can address widespread corruption within its leadership.
“I have been approached and I will make a decision next week,” Carrard told Reuters. FIFA-appointed officials from FIFA’s regional governing bodies, such as the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and Europe’s Union of Football Associations, will compose the rest of the reform task force’s membership.
Soccer’s international governing body came under fire in May after the U.S. Justice Department indicted 14 officials, including nine current or former FIFA executives, on corruption charges. The organization vowed to initiate self-reform, despite calls from corporate sponsors to form an independent, external oversight committee.
The reform task force will submit its recommendations to FIFA’s executive committee in late September, the BBC reported. Potential reforms were expected to include term limits for FIFA officials, transparency regarding FIFA salaries and background checks for incoming FIFA executives.
Carrard, 77, served as the IOC’s director-general from 1989 to 2003. He helped lead the IOC amid allegations of corruption surrounding the bidding process for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several IOC members stepped down or were fired after an investigation revealed they accepted perks from Salt Lake City bid officials in exchange for their votes. Throughout the scandal, Carrard was “the IOC’s most visible spokesman, equally adept – and often wry – in French and English,” the Los Angeles Times said in 2003.
Dick Pound, who led the investigation into IOC corruption, said Carrard was well-suited to lead the reform task force. "He is an experienced lawyer. He has got good judgment,” Pound told Reuters. “He has had a lot of international experience and exposure and he is Swiss, which I think would appeal to an organization like FIFA, who would probably not welcome anyone, certainly from North America or even the (British) Commonwealth, in that kind of position.”
In July, top corporate sponsors Visa and Coca-Cola separately called for FIFA to submit to external oversight in order to ensure an end of corruption within the organization. Critics have questioned how a reform task force full of FIFA-appointed officials can remain independent.
“Past investigations and reform efforts have failed because they all, ultimately, [have] been under the control of the FIFA Executive Committee, the very FIFA body historically plagued by corruption. In order to be successful, future investigations and reform efforts have to be independent of FIFA and the Executive Committee,” David Larkin, co-chairman of the campaign organization Change FIFA, told International Business Times in July.