By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - The frontrunner in the FIFA presidential election, Asian football chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, says he wants to divide the organization into two separate entities as part of a 'turnaround' plan for the crisis-hit organization.
Salman, who is president of the Asian Football Confederation, said in a statement on Wednesday that FIFA's governance and business functions would be separated if he took over the helm following the Feb. 26 elections.
The Bahraini suggested dividing the organization into a 'Football FIFA' that will be responsible for governance and running events and tournaments; and a 'Business FIFA' which would handle all commercial, financial and funding matters.
"Only by strictly separating the generation of funds and supervising the flow of all monies spent can we guarantee the rebirth of a new FIFA that is accountable and is a good corporate citizen that deserves everybody’s respect", Salman said in the statement.
FIFA's 209 member associations will vote for a new president at a congress in Zurich on Feb. 26. Previous president Sepp Blatter was banned from football for eight years by FIFA's Ethics Committee earlier this month.
United States prosecutors have indicted 27 current or former soccer officials, including eight ex-FIFA Executive Committee members and the current heads of both the North and South American federations, over allegations they ran bribery schemes connected to the sale of TV rights for soccer competitions.
Twelve people in sports marketing and two companies have been convicted.
Swiss authorities are also investigating FIFA and on Wednesday handed over the first batch of evidence to U.S authorities after freezing around $80 million in assets in 13 bank accounts.
"FIFA must be restructured top-down in order to remedy its present ills. Nothing short of a complete organizational overhaul and the introduction of stringent control mechanisms will allow us to re-launch FIFA in its entirety," Salman added.
Salman said he intended to bring in "external experts" to help with the process including a "top class executive who does not necessarily need to have a football pedigree but is someone who has the expertise of a turn-around manager".
Salman also promised an in-depth review of FIFA's senior management structure and vowed to listen to the organization's staff.
"FIFA is not those 40-odd individuals who have been indicted, arrested or already convicted on various charges. FIFA is above all a 400-strong group of employees from 40 plus countries who have suffered from the mayhem caused by others only marginally linked to the organization," he said, noting that there have been no arrests or charges against FIFA staff members.
Salman repeated his pledge not to take a salary if elected president and said he would have a non-executive role.
"I shall not be micro-managing the organization and nor will I play a role in day-to-day to operations," he said, adding there would be full transparency of financial accounts including "minute details".
He said he would aim to win back sponsor support for the body.
"My focus will be to make FIFA deserving of corporate support by introducing structures and controls that generate the kind of trust we have lost in many quarters. Pretty PR talk will not remedy the failures FIFA has allowed to occur," he added.
The other candidates for FIFA president are UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne, Jordanian Football Association president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein and South African politician and businessman Tokyo Sexwale.
(Reporting By Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)