AP News

Blatter tells FIFA advisers to curb criticism


ZURICH (AP) — Criticized on all sides after a series of scandals, FIFA's executive committee members should not be publicly targeted by the governing body's anti-corruption advisers, President Sepp Blatter said Friday.

Blatter said he met the expert panel led by Mark Pieth on Thursday and corrected remarks the Swiss law professor made in Denmark last week.

Pieth had told a sports governance conference that "older" FIFA elected officials were resisting the reform proposals which Blatter invited his group to propose after bribery and vote-buying allegations damaged football's governing body.

Blatter says several colleagues objected to the criticism when they discussed his reform mission Friday.

"They were not happy about some declarations made by this independent committee or other officials involved there," the FIFA president told reporters, insisting: "There is no opposition in the FIFA executive committee towards the reform process."

Blatter used his news conference to renew FIFA's call for world soccer to fight against match-fixing and illegal betting, and promised players would be protected if they reported attempts to corrupt games.

Blatter and his 25-member board met over two days at the same time as Pieth's advisory panel gathered elsewhere in FIFA's home city of Zurich.

The group, composed of senior anti-corruption and legal experts working alongside delegates from FIFA sponsors and stakeholders, submitted a first round of proposals in March to Blatter's ruling committee. Those led to FIFA's 209 member nations approving a limited slate of changes, including a revamped two-chamber ethics court to prosecute and judge corruption cases.

Pieth's panel has begun preparing a second round of suggestions proposals that FIFA members will vote on next May in Mauritius.

Blatter said his reform drive was working and restoring FIFA's credibility.

"It is always a question of perception and the question of reality," he said. "We are in a good mood and in a good moment and I am sure that we will be able to succeed."

Blatter announced a new panel will shape changes to FIFA's legal statutes in consultation with member associations. It is composed of the secretary generals and legal directors of FIFA and its six continental confederations. It meets for the first time next month.

First, Blatter said he and Pieth would meet later Friday to update their progress.

With Kosovo's national and club teams waiting approval to play international matches against FIFA members, the executive committee pushed back an expected decision to its next meeting on Dec. 14 in Tokyo.


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