FIFA reforms could have gone further
Speaking at the Soccerex Global Convention, FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb called for better stakeholder representation and term limits in the world body of football. Steve Menary reports from Manchester.
FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb has called for a rebalancing of the world body’s executive committee and the introduction of proportional representation. Webb, also the president of the CONCACAF regional confederation covering North American, Central American and Caribbean Football, was also critical of the reforms at the world body.
“We could have gone further,” said Webb, who was speaking at the Soccerex conference in Manchester bringing together a wide range of football leaders and the football industry. “The landscape of global football has changed. The ExCo should be rebalanced. There should be proportional representation.
“It’s not fair that Africa has four or five members on the ExCo, when they have almost the same number of members as UEFA, who have nine. The rebalancing is important. I am also a big fan of independent board members. We have taken a big step with the introduction of women, but there should be someone from the referees.”
Asked if he felt players should also be represented on the ExCo, Webb agreed that they should in a wide ranging speech in which he used the performance of CONCACAF’s teams at this summers’ World Cup to lobby for more places at future finals and also the staging of a future tournament.
Webb added: “CONCACAF were thinking of asking for four places but if Platini is going to ask for more, then we should too. Only CONMEBOL [covering South America] had a better ratio of teams through to the last 16, so yes we deserve more.”
He also made a pitch for the 2026 World Cup finals to be staged in CONCACAF. Webb stated: “I really feel we were hard done by the stopping of the rotation [of hosting World Cup finals]. In 2026, that will be 30 years since CONCACAF hosted the World Cup; that’s far too long. The only two confederations that should be involved in those discussions over 2026 are CONCACAF and Africa. We need clarity [over the end of rotation].”
FIFA must build up trust
Webb also said that FIFA’s image was badly damaged. “Image and perception are the number one [problem],” said Webb. “FIFA has not done a great job with communication in the past. From an ethics’ standpoint, we have a lot of work to do; we have to build up trust.”
Webb also insisted that he would not be running for the presidency either next year or at the following election in 2019. He saying: “That’s a huge commitment to my family and lifestyle and I’m not sure I want that.”
Shortly before his appearance, a colleague of Webb’s at the Cayman Islands association was arrested over money-laundering charges at the weekend. Although Canover Watson, also a member of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee and a vice president of the Caribbean Football Union, denies the charges, Webb did not take questions from the audience in Manchester.
Calls for term limits
However, Webb was the second FIFA vice president to call for term limits for the top job at the world body in the space of 24 hours at the Soccerex conference.
The previous day, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan also suggested limits on the FIFA presidency. Webb backed this up and added to the calls for the report by lawyer Michael Garcia into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals to be made public.
After Webb’s talk, two more senior FIFA officials also used Soccerex to add to growing calls for term limits, which were dismissed at this summer’s FIFA congress in Brazil. The Northern Irish FIFA Vice President Jim Boyce said: “I am in favour of an age limit and a time limit.”
Moya Dodd, an Australian member of the FIFA ExCo and vice president of the Asian Football Confederation, said: “My view is that term limits are healthy and age limits are discriminatory and not the best way to achieve turnover.”
Steve Menary is a UK freelance journalist and a regular contributor to Play the Game.