Leading article: A whole new ball game required

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The Independent Online

Tonight the football world will have its eyes on Wembley as Barcelona and Manchester United contest the final of the Champions League, but perhaps more significant are the events taking place in Zurich as an increasingly squalid battle for power at Fifa, football's world governing body, reaches its end game.

The two candidates in next week's presidential election, the incumbent Sepp Blatter, and the challenger Mohamed Bin Hammam, are both under investigation by Fifa's ethics committee for bribery-related allegations. Tawdry though the affair is, it offers hope of the belated reform Fifa desperately needs. Successive attempts at change have foundered with the executive using powers of patronage to maintain power. This has led to calls, notably from England, to establish a rival organisation. That is unrealistic, not least because the Football Association cannot even credibly run the game in this country.

Change can only come from within, as with the once-corrupt International Olympic Committee. The IOC reformed after one member blew the whistle on the bribes through which Salt Lake City had won the 2002 Winter Olympics. With members of its notorious executive committee now turning upon one another, the hope is that Fifa can put its house in order.