Fifa president Sepp Blatter promotes 'lovely lady' but delays key reform


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The Independent Football

Sepp Blatter's attempts to convince the sceptics that Fifa is actually making progress along its "road map" to reform were cast into further doubt yesterday when football's world governing body announced it was delaying – for another two months – the appointment of independent members to its new investigations unit

Blatter, Fifa's president, was able to announce the appointment of the first woman on to the body's Executive Committee – Lydia Nsekera of Burundi – although even that landmark moment was clouded in confusion as Nsekera declined to speak to the media until she had received written confirmation.

The Ex-co meeting ahead of this week's annual congress in Budapest, at which proposals for reform will be discussed, ended after half a day rather than the scheduled two. The reason given for the delay in naming the men to head the new unit's prosecution and judging divisions is that one candidate turned it down for "health reasons".

Instead, the Ex-co will hold an emergency meeting in July to settle the appointments – four months after Blatter announced the "historic" formation of the unit. There is also as yet no direction on whether the new unit will be expected, or encouraged, to investigate past wrong-doings that plunged the Ex-co and Fifa into crisis last year.

Having a woman on the Ex-co – for the first time in 108 years – is one promise Blatter has delivered on. Nsekera, a campaigner for women's rights, is the only female currently heading a national association and has won praise for battling corruption since her appointment in 2004. She is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

"She's a lovely lady, she's a tough lady," said Blatter. "She's a princess, the daughter of a sultan. She was really the best choice."