October 21 - FIFA President Sepp Blatter today unveiled an unprecedented "road map to reform" to help football's battered world governing body get back on its feet after years of mistrust and deceit.

Promising to work for "transparency and independence" Blatter announced a radical politics-style timetable to be implemented between now and June 2013 which, he hoped, would conclude with FIFA finally being cleansed of corruption scandals with its credibility restored.

With more than a third of FIFA's Executive Committee tainted by various misdemeanours over the past year, Blatter could not afford to fudge one of the most pivotal meetings of his controversial 13-year Presidency after pledging zero tolerance in June when elected for the fourth and final time.

His critics will argue that he did just that, that his eagerly awaited reforms were too vague and that by the time they are implemented, any remaining miscreants among the so-called FIFA family will have found a way to extricate themselves from any wrongdoing.

But nothing happens overnight at FIFA and Blatter's two-year clean-up drive was as ambitious as it was comprehensive - and included one dramatic and highly sensitive development.

After months of media pressure, Blatter announced the infamous ISL court dossier will be re-opened and the file handed to an independent body to see if any prominent FIFA members should face action.

ISL collapsed in 2001 with debts of $300 million (£188 million/€216 million) and FIFA has blocked the papers being released ever since the case was settled in June 2009.

But Blatter has now performed a remarkable U-turn in a move partly aimed at improving his own reputation in his final four-year term of office.

The documents, revealed in a BBC Panorama documentary, are understood to identify four leading FIFA officials -- former President Joao Havelange and Executive Committee members Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and Issa Hayatou from Cameroon – who are said to have received payments from FIFA's former marketing partner.

"The Executive Committee has at my request agreed that in the meeting of December 16/17 [in Tokyo] we will re-open this file," said the 75-year-old Swiss, announcing some of the most significant developments in the 107-year history of football's world governing body.

"If there are any measures to be taken they will not be taken by the executive committee - it is not the body that can take sanctions or release anyone - so we will give this file to an independent organisation outside of FIFA so they can delve into this file and extract its conclusions and present them to us."

He added, tellingly: "The court has said there are people involved but no Swiss people only foreign people."

Blatter also announced that members of FIFA's 24-man Executive Committee - four of whom were missing this week for various reasons, none of them suspicious --  would in future be "screened".

He denied that half of the current members were already corrupt.

"The members are elected by the different confederations and in the future we will make a screening of the members," he said.

"Let us work for transparency, let us work for anti-corruption."

Away from the ISL case, Blatter detailed a complete overhaul of FIFA's internal workings, with three task forces set up to address the problems that have beset the organisation.

One will tighten up its statutes, one make its Ethics Committee more independent and a third deal with transparency and compliance led by FIFA members in New Zealand and Paraguay.

These will be supplemented by a so-called Good Governance Committee of between 15 and 18 members to monitor FIFA's overall conduct.

Formerly known as a Solutions Committee, it will deliberately comprise all stakeholders including clubs, leagues and fans.

The announcement of a raft of yet more unwieldy committees hardly gets the pulse racing in terms of achieving a quick and much-needed purge of corruption but Blatter has put a deadline of FIFA's 2013 Congress in Mauritius for the across-the-board clean-up to complete its work.

Walter de Gregorio, FIFA's head of communications, described the move as a "huge step" but as usual, the devil will be in the detail.

By Andrew Warshaw

Source: www.insidethegames.biz