International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has waded into the FIFA crisis, suggesting the body look outside football for an “external candidate” to succeed the suspended Sepp Blatter.
The statement came after Blatter and Michel Platini, the president of the European football association (UEFA), were handed 90-day provisional suspensions by FIFA’s ethics committee.
The ethics committee did not detail specific allegations against either man, but Swiss authorities said last month they had launched a criminal investigation into Blatter, partly involving a “disloyal payment” of two million Swiss francs ($2.8 million) to Platini, at FIFA’s expense, in 2011.
In a strongly worded and rare intervention into the FIFA affair, Bach placed pressure on the troubled football organisation, saying change was long overdue.
“They must do two things immediately: they must accelerate and deepen the reform process in order to comply with accountability, transparency and all the principles of good governance,” he said.
“They should also be open for a credible external presidential candidate of high integrity, to accomplish the necessary reforms and bring back stability and credibility to FIFA.”
FIFA’s rules say that to be a candidate for president an individual must have been involved in the game actively for two of the past five years, as well as presenting nominations from five national associations.
Those rules severely limit the opportunities for a candidate from outside of the existing football organisations.
The only way those rules could be changed is through reform of FIFA’s statutes, which can only be done at a FIFA congress.
The next congress is on February 26, when the next president is set to be elected.
“Enough is enough. We hope that now, finally, everyone at FIFA has at last understood that they cannot continue to remain passive,” he said.
UEFA, meanwhile, said it would stand by its embattled leader, adding Platini will not be replaced despite not performing official duties “for the time being”.
The European governing body’s rules state if its president is not available to conduct his duties then the highest-ranked vice-president takes over – similarly to the manner in which Hayatou was installed as FIFA’s interim president – but UEFA said it “saw no need, at this moment in time” to take that step.