Burundi FA President Lydia Nsekera became the first female candidate elected to FIFA's board in the governing body's 109-year history. Nsekera, 46, will serve a four-year term on the committee after winning the vote at the FIFA congress in Mauritius Friday. Moya Dodd and Sonia Bien-Aime will each join FIFA's top table as co-opted members for one year. Nsekera is the 25th member of the FIFA exec committee composed of 24 members through Friday (FIFA). REUTERS' Mike Collett reported Nsekera's appointment to FIFA's exec committee "was not without its critics." Dodd, a former Australian int'l player and Asian Football Confederation VP, "had been widely regarded as a far stronger candidate with better credentials for the job." One senior FIFA delegate said, "The whole system was flawed from the beginning and I am very disappointed with this decision. It was a ridiculous way to go about things because it obviously gave Lydia a head start. Why didn't we go for an elected position a year ago? I am not sure it was based on credentials, more on image and perception. Everyone is pandering to the African vote." Another senior administrator said, "Frankly Moya Dodd, who is a practicing lawyer, would have been a far better choice, especially with the continuing reform process FIFA has implemented, but Nsekera was personally chosen by President (Sepp) Blatter last year and the status quo has been maintained for obvious reasons" (REUTERS, 5/31). In London, James Riach reported Blatter "blundered his way through the appointment of a woman" to FIFA's exec committee for the first time. Blatter: "Say something ladies, you are always speaking at home, now you can speak here" (GUARDIAN, 5/31).
NEW REFORMS: The AP's Gerald Imray reported FIFA "put in place tougher measures on racism, introduced integrity checks on senior officials and gave a woman a full four-year term on its ruling board" on Friday. Still, some insist FIFA "is not doing enough." Blatter, however, "was gratified by the steps following the scandals of the last few years." Blatter: "I am happy to say that FIFA has weathered the storm. We have emerged from troubled waters." However, the head of the reform panel advising FIFA said that there is "still much to do." Swiss professor Mark Pieth said that FIFA "must make public the salaries and bonuses of its big earners and set age and term limits for senior officials." Also, independent observers "have not yet been allowed" onto FIFA's decision-making exec committee (AP, 5/31). In London, James Olley reported FIFA "passed a new resolution promising tougher sanction on teams found guilty of racist incidents." First-time offenders "will receive a warning or a fine while multiple offences could lead to a points deduction, games behind closed doors or even relegation or expulsion from competitions." A 99% majority approved the "resolution on the fight against racism and discrimination" (EVENING STANDARD, 5/31). The London GUARDIAN reported FIFA also "passed measures dictating that players or officials found guilty of racist abuse in any game should be banned for five matches." The sanction "had previously only applied" to FIFA internationals. Additionally, the FIFA resolution provides for the presence of "a specialised official to be in the stadium to identify potential acts of racism or discrimination" (GUARDIAN, 5/31).
BLATTER ON PALESTINE: REUTERS' Brian Homewood reported Blatter told the Palestine FA that he would "personally intervene to try to end their long-running sporting problems with Israel." Blatter said that he would "go to the region in July to speak to politicians and sporting authorities to find a solution to Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian players and visitors to the West Bank." Palestinians are angry that Israel's security forces "frequently prevent athletes from travelling freely between the two areas." Israel cites security concerns, but said that it "has eased travel for athletes between the Palestinian territories." Blatter: "Football should not be a victim of such situations" (REUTERS, 5/31).