MIAMI — Regional football body Concacaf is backing Fifa’s proposal to restrict term limits for future presidents and executive committee members, part of the world governing body’s plans for reforms after a series of corruption scandals.
Concacaf, which governs football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, takes a different stance from the Union of European Football Associations (Uefa), which has opposed those suggestions and has positioned itself against some reforms that critics see as vital to cleaning up Fifa’s battered image.
Concacaf said on Monday it fully endorsed a 10-point plan that included limiting future Fifa presidents to eight years in office and executive committee members to three four-year terms.
The plan was suggested by a Fifa working group, which includes officials from each of Fifa’s six continental confederations and will meet on Tuesday in Zurich to consider feedback from their member countries about modernising how the sport is run.
"It is gratifying to see we are finally accompanying this profound renovation of the world of football," said Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb, who joined the Fifa executive board last year.
Uefa wants a 12-year limit on the Fifa presidency, with unlimited terms for Fifa board members. European countries also reject plans to scrutinise Fifa officials and election candidates for integrity through an independent panel working from Fifa headquarters in Zurich.
Fifa’s suggested plan falls short of wider-ranging proposals requested by an advisory group including anticorruption experts invited by Fifa president Sepp Blatter to help the two-year reform process. A key request of the advisory panel is to allow independent observers to oversee all Fifa committees.
Concacaf said its 40 members were "overwhelmingly supportive" of the Fifa plan to increase transparency and accountability. Just 35 of those countries have full Fifa membership and voting rights when the final slate is decided at the Fifa congress scheduled in Mauritius on May 31.
Concacaf has scheduled its continental assembly for April 19 in Panama City, when it will provide details of a financial audit commissioned in the fallout of an election bribery scandal which rocked Fifa. Long-time Concacaf president Jack Warner resigned in June 2011 to avoid investigation by Fifa, where he had served on the board for 28 years.
Meanwhile, match-fixing bans on 58 Chinese soccer officials and players would be extended worldwide, Fifa said on Monday. The 58 were banned by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) on February 18 following a three-year push to clean up rampant corruption in the sport in China.
"The sanctions by the Chinese Football Association’s disciplinary committee involve players and officials, with 25 receiving a five-year ban from all football activities while the remaining 33 individuals were banned from all football activities for life," Fifa said.
"The chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee has extended the sanctions to have worldwide effect. In taking those sanctions and notifying Fifa of them, the CFA has emphasised its ongoing commitment to stamping out all forms of match-fixing and corruption in the game."
China’s Xinhua news agency reported last week that the 58 included two former football chiefs who were jailed in June for accepting bribes in a scandal.
Nan Yong, the former head of Chinese football, was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years for taking bribes worth more than 1.48 million yuan ($237,500) while his predecessor, Xie Yalong, received an identical sentence and was also fined 200,000 yuan.
Former Chinese Football Association deputy head Yang Yimin and World Cup referee Lu Jun, once hailed as China’s "Golden Whistle", were also among the 33 banned from football for life.
Others included four former Chinese national team players — Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin and Li Ming — all jailed for up to six years in June for match-fixing.
The sentences "followed investigations and trials conducted by Chinese judicial authorities between 2010 and 2012 in which the Chinese Football Association co-operated fully", Fifa said.