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An impressive show of unity

Thursday 24 January 2013 20.27 CET
Europe's national associations met in Nyon

An impressive show of Europe-wide unity was evident in Nyon as the 53 European FIFA member associations issued a unanimous declaration on a series of amendments to the world football body's statutes, proposed by FIFA as part of improvements to its governance.

In the declaration, among other things, the associations – who were represented by their presidents and general secretaries – expressed the view that FIFA Executive Committee members should continue to be appointed by the continental confederations. 'Confirmation' of FIFA Executive Committee members by the FIFA Congress would not be necessary, and any integrity checks on FIFA Executive Committee members should be made by the confederations.

The declaration also said there should be no change to the basic composition of the FIFA Executive Committee, and especially the number of vice-presidents, while the four British associations should retain an automatic vice-presidency within the world football body. The European associations also called for a maximum term of office to be introduced for the FIFA President, and declared that a general age limit of 72 at the time of election/appointment would be appropriate for those serving on all FIFA bodies.

Certain statutory reforms were already approved at the 2012 FIFA Congress in Budapest, and other reforms are to be submitted to the 2013 FIFA Congress in Mauritius. "With this in mind, we gathered all of our national associations [together], because it is finally up to the associations to decide what they want to have in the FIFA statutes," said UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino.

The Nyon meeting was requested by FIFA as part of the consultation process. "There were proposals made by FIFA," he added, "and based on these proposals, our associations have expressed their opinion. It was a very interesting meeting." UEFA President Michel Platini and the UEFA Executive Committee were present in Nyon for the deliberations. "The declaration follows the principle of good governance," Mr Infantino told UEFA.com.

Highlighting some of the main points of the declaration, Mr Infantino spoke first about the issue of integrity checks – based on the principles established against phenomena such as racism, violence, corruption and match-fixing. "Anyone involved in these activities should not be eligible to become a FIFA member," he explained.

"A lot of discussions have taken place with regard to term limitations. When it comes to the President of FIFA, the proposal is to have a term limitation of eight years for the first term, and a second term of four years – a maximum term of 12 years," Mr Infantino added.

The UEFA General Secretary praised the unanimous stance of the European national associations in the declaration. "European unity has been at the top of the agenda of our President Michel Platini since the beginning of his mandate – in a discussion which is often not simple, very democratic and very open, [coming] from very different positions, the European members managed to come to a compromise, and to a joint position for the benefit of football.

"This is something which is extremely positive, and shows how mature and professional European football is, and how we are proactive and constructive in this whole process."

The next steps will see the declaration provided to FIFA, and further discussions will take place within FIFA working groups and the FIFA Executive Committee, with the FIFA Congress in Mauritius in May taking final decisions on the proposals. "We hope that for the good of football, some of these proposals, if not all of them, will be implemented in the FIFA statutes," said Mr Infantino.

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