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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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FIFA's Member Associations have followed the advice of the Executive Committee by approving the extensive set of reforms with an overwhelming majority here today.

A total of 179 countries voted in favour of the proposals, with 22 against and six abstentions.

The news was met with rapturous applause inside the conference centre, despite an official from the Palestine Football Association expressing serious doubt about the reforms, claiming they "seriously threaten the future of FIFA" and put "all of the power in the hands of the [proposed] Council".

Interim FIFA President Issa Hayatou, who is also the head of the Confederation of African Football, had yesterday urged the Congress to get behind the reform package, including limiting the head of the corruption-plagued governing body to four three-year terms.

Other key elements include the establishment of a 36-strong FIFA Council, which will replace the ruling Executive Committee.

In a bid to address the gender imbalance within the governing body, six of these must be women.

The only current female Executive Committee member is Australian Moya Dodd.

The amendments, passed with an 89 per cent majority, will come into effect 60 days after the conclusion of today's Extraordinary Congress.

Hayatou insists the reforms, incorporated into an amended version of the FIFA Statutes, will "deter future wrongdoing" following a tumultuous period for the organisation, which has seen a total of 41 officials and entities indicted on corruption charges by the United States Department of Justice.

"We stand united in our determination to put things right, so that the focus can return to football once again," Hayatou said.

"The hard work of restoring trust and improving how we work begins now.

“This will create a system of stronger governance and greater diversity that will give football a strong foundation on which to thrive.

"It will help to restore trust in our organisation and it will deter future wrongdoing."

The package will also see the number of Standing Committees cut from 26 to nine to increase efficiency, while all members of such groups will have to undergo integrity checks, conducted by an independent FIFA Review Panel.

In order to improve transparency in the organisation, a dedicated Football Stakeholders Committee will be established, made up of players and representatives from clubs and leagues, a crucial step to including those involved in the game at the top level of footballing governance.

Greater transparency, through the declaration of the sums of money earned by the top brass, will also come into effect, along with a new human rights statute.

There were concerns, however, that the reforms would give too much power to the the same member Associations and Confederations who have been dominating the way FIFA has been governed in recent times.

Organisations such as FIFPro, the world players' union, and some of Europe's top clubs have spoken out in opposition.

The reforms came as a result of work undertaken by the FIFA Reform Committee, led by François Carrard, the International Olympic Committee's director general between 1989 and 2003 and who was involved in the reform process following the 2002 Salt Lake City bribery scandal.

They are designed to help the reputation of an organisation which remains engulfed in the worst scandal in its history.

"It's a starting-point," Carrard told insidethegames.

"Nothing is over - it's a foundation.

"I think the new FIFA President will have a basis from which he can move onward and further.

"A reform process is not overnight and a wide majority is essential.

"Eighty nine per cent is good, but I am also happy it wasn't 100 per cent."

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