Havelange hit by Uefa proposals

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The heads of the sport's six regional confederation yesterday endorsed a series of reforms proposed by Uefa, the European governing body, which reduced the powers of Joao Havelange, the president of Fifa, and forced the world's governing body to share their World Cup revenue more evenly.

Havelange met the heads of Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and Central America at Fifa headquarters in Zurich and agreed that they should have greater control of the sport in their own regions plus a bigger say in choosing Fifa's powerful standing committees.

But two of the most important proposals by Uefa - for the World Cup finals to be rotated among the confederations and for reform of Fifa's executive committee - were shelved.

"What more can you ask for? I'm very happy," said the Uefa president, Lennart Johansson, who brought a long-running power struggle into the open by pushing the reform plans.

"We are happy with the result, but we do not look at ourselves as winners. There are no winners or losers - every decision we took was unanimous."

Uefa published two strategy documents in July, dubbed Vision One and Vision Two. The first dealt with the power balance between Fifa and the confederations, and the need for more democracy after 20 years of Havelange's rule.

The other proposal urged Fifa to adopt competitive marketing of the World Cup finals and said the revenues should be shared out more evenly between Fifa, the confederations and 190 or so national associations.

Uefa claimed that the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, one of the most successful sporting events ever held, produced only pounds 12.26m in television and marketing revenues and believed it was possible to make four times that figure in 2002.

Fifa acknowledged that they should optimise, although not necessarily maximise, World Cup revenues and share the profits throughout the various levels of the sport.

Among the formal decisions made, which will go forward to an executive committee meeting in Paris next month and then to the Fifa Congress in Zurich in July, were that new national associations would have to apply first to their respective confederations for recognition instead of to Fifa.

The confederations will have sole responsibility for player transfers in their regions and for organising all qualifying rounds of Fifa competitions, except for the World Cup.

The meeting also created an entirely new "management board", which would fix the agenda for Fifa's executive committee. The board will comprise the presidents of Fifa and the six confederations.

Meanwhile, the Cameroon football federation is in a turmoil which is threatening to keep the team out of international competitions. Officials said yesterday that an extraordinary congress of the football federation had failed to resolve the dispute which began when Cameroon's sports minister, Joseph Marie Bipoun, sacked the federation's executive in June, accusing it of bad management of World Cup funds.

That incurred the wrath of Fifa, who said the minister did not have the power to sack the executive, and Fifa has given the Cameroon authorities until 30 November to put their house in order or face exclusion from competitions, starting with the African Nations Cup finals in January.

Officials said the weekend meeting never got round to examining the main points on the agenda, including the election of a new executive. The three days of talks got bogged down in who was eligible to stand for election.