FIFA needs makeover, says Swiss expert

The FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland (AFP Photo/Michael Buholzer)

Lausanne (AFP) - Football's top body is "semi-dictatorial" and needs a makeover, Swiss governance expert Mark Pieth, who had been hired by outgoing FIFA chief Sepp Blatter to suggest improvements, told AFP.

The Basel-based expert, who headed an independent governance committee to advise FIFA how to buttress its tarnished reputation in the wake of a slew of scandals, said the organisation needed fundamental structural reforms.

"FIFA already had a semi-dictatorial structure under (Blatter's predecessor) Joao Havelange and even more so under Blatter," he said.

He said the body's governing system was "ultra-presidential with not enough counter-checks."

The governance committee wound up its work at the end of 2013 but its recommendations were not implemented.

FIFA's image is in shreds now with around 14 current or former officials and sports marketing executives accused by US prosecutors of taking part in a sweeping kickbacks scheme going back 20 years involving a total of $150 million in bribes.

The scandal, which also involves a Swiss probe into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, has led to the resignation of long serving FIFA boss Blatter, just four days after his reelection for a fifth successive term.

Pieth said it was necessary to "limit the powers of the president and also the executive committee" and review the "principle of one country, one vote."

He also stressed the need for investigations led by FIFA -- and not at the confederation level -- on future candidates seeking a place on the executive committee, to avoid similar scandals in the future.

Such kind of ethics probes "are not foolproof ... but can lead one to anticipate problems," he said.