Fifa takes tough stance on government meddling

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The Independent Football

Fifa said today that it is preparing to send a tougher warning to politicians and governments to stay out of football's affairs.

Football's global governing body wants to tighten its rules so it has a stronger legal basis to punish national associations whose independent work is interfered with by third parties - "politicians, governments, states, media, etc."



If Fifa's 208 member associations agree to the changes at their annual Congress in the Bahamas next month, they will face sanctions even if they are not at fault.



The tough stance is set out in proposed amendments to the Fifa Statues published today in the official Congress agenda.



Fifa says it has "increasingly noticed that the affairs of member associations are being influenced by third parties."



Fifa rules already forbid outside interference in the work of independent national football associations.



But the Zurich-based governing body has had disputes with the governments of countries such as Iraq, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and Spain in the past 18 months. Ethiopia was even kicked out of the African qualification tournament for the 2010 World Cup.



Now Fifa wants to amend articles 13 and 17 - relating to members' obligations and independence - of its official rule book "in order to stop this trend and also to establish a clear legal base."



National associations will be punished "even if the third-party influence was not the fault of the member concerned."



When a country is suspended from world football its national team, referees and officials are barred from taking part in official matches.



Fifa also wants to take a tougher line on officials who don't attend meetings of the organisation's committees.



"Fifa has realised that certain standing committee members have not been taking their role .... as seriously as they should and have not been regularly attending meetings," it said in the Congress agenda.



A proposed amendment to article 34 would allow Fifa to remove failing officials from their post "at any time."



The votes will take place during the Congress scheduled 2-3 June at Nassau.



Members will also discuss proposed changes to the Olympic football tournament.



Fifa President Sepp Blatter said last week he wants a maximum age limit of 21 for players to be eligible.



Also on the agenda for discussion is Blatter's favored "six-plus-five" rule - which would force club teams to start matches with six players eligible for the country's national team - anti-doping programs, and tightening the rules on transferring players aged under 18.



"The entire Fifa family is united in the belief that minors in football must receive better protection," Blatter says in a foreword to the agenda.



The 24-man Fifa Executive Committee meets before the Congress and is set to decide which 12 cities in Brazil will host matches at the 2014 World Cup.

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