FIFA’s Executive Committee has announced it has discussed the possible expansion of the World Cup to 40 teams and also agreed to limit FIFA presidents to three terms of four years.

The ExCo agreed a number of proposals put forward by the governing body’s reform committee during another tumultuous day for the organisation.

The reform  announce-ment came  just hours after two senior FIFA officials, Alfredo Hawit, president of CONCACAF, and Juan Angel Napout, president of CONMEBOL, were taken into custody by Swiss police following raids at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich.

Both Hawit and Napout are suspected of accepting millions of dollars in bribes and have opposed immediate extradition to the United States.

A statement released by FIFA confirmed reports of an expansion of the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams, reportedly in time for the 2026 World Cup, had been discussed but no decision had  been made on the proposal.

The issue will be debated further at a later date.

There was agreement, however, on the length the president and other high-ranking officials can serve in office.

Sepp Blatter stood  down as FIFA president in June just days after winning a fifth term in charge, with a new president to be elected on February 26, 2016.

Blatter has since been hit with a provisional 90-day ban from all football-related activities by FIFA’s ethics committee after a criminal investigation was opened into allegations he sold a World Cup TV rights contract to former FIFA official Jack Warner in a deal that was unfavourable for FIFA and that the 79-year-old made a disloyal payment of two million Swiss francs to Michel Platini, with the Frenchman and secretary general Jerome Valcke also receiving provisional bans following the corruption claims.

The ExCo have now accepted the proposal that his successor should serve no longer than 12 years.

Those term limits will also apply to members of the FIFA Council,  which will replace the ExCo and be “responsible for setting the organisation’s overall strategic direction”,  the Audit and Compliance Committee and the judicial bodies.

The general secretariat is to oversee the operational and commercial actions required to put the Council’s strategy in place.

Francois Carrard, head of the independent reform committee, explained at Thursday’s briefing:   “The current Executive Committee which has a status which is, frankly, not totally clear will be replaced by a FIFA Council, which will be more like a real board of directors, exercising a broad overall strategy but not getting involved in day-to-day business.

“The reforms are made up of principles, many of which will be submitted to the Congress.

“The FIFA Council, separated from the managerial function, defines the policies and strategies. The enhanced General Secretariat will handle the management, under  a general secretary who will be the FIFA CEO.

“Under the CEO, we’ll introduce the office of Chief Compliance Officer. The independent committees are not enough. They will report to the CEO and the chairman of the Audit and Compliance.”

“You all know that FIFA is going through a major crisis,” he added.  “As we also all know, a crisis is a unique opportunity for a change, for renewal, and for commencing a new period of its very rich history.”

Carrard also underlined that every member association will be required to elect at least one woman to the Council, adding:  “Six women is a minimum. Nothing prevents elections calling more than that. We have to be realistic. We’ve multiplied by six, from one to six. But the proper answer is the will to enlarge the participation of all stakeholders in FIFA, and the numbers of women.”

Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou said: “These reforms are moving FIFA towards improved governance, greater transparency and more accountability.

 

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