Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Francois Carrard and the new FIFA reform committee met for the first time in Switzerland.

September 02, 2015

BERN, Switzerland (AP) — A panel steering reforms of football's crisis-hit governing body started work Wednesday on its mission to help FIFA change and restore its credibility.

Former IOC director general Francois Carrard chaired a 12-member group of football officials and lawyers which began a two-day session at a hotel next to Switzerland's parliament.

Members of Carrard's team, all picked by FIFA's six continental confederations, declined comment before the Swiss lawyer's scheduled news conference on Thursday.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gave an opening address to kick off a process he promised on June 2 when announcing his resignation plans under pressure from American and Swiss criminal investigations implicating senior football officials.

After Blatter's speech Wednesday, FIFA audit monitor Domenico Scala presented his ideas, including to restructure the much-criticized, 27-member executive committee and cut its influence on decision-making.

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Scala also wants to impose term limits on senior FIFA officials, publish what payments they get and require stricter integrity checks on candidates.

Still, Scala's paper is just a working document and his influence is unclear on a panel with a strong IOC influence. Asia's two delegates on Carrard's team are Olympic power broker Sheik Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah of Kuwait, recently elected to the FIFA executive panel, and former IOC vice president Kevan Gosper of Australia.

Carrard's work will be vetted by a five-member advisory board, which he will appoint within weeks, and then sent to the Blatter-led executive committee.

Only then will FIFA's 209 member federations get to vote for changes on Feb. 26 at a congress in Zurich where they also elect Blatter's successor.

FIFA members already rejected imposing term limits in a vote on the eve of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

FIFA's chosen path to reform falls short of the fully independent process demanded by anti-corruption experts and some World Cup sponsors.

The more in-house approach saw Wednesday's sessions attended by legal director Marco Villiger and deputy secretary general Markus Kattner.

Visa, a sponsor at the past two World Cups, suggested in July that "no meaningful progress can be made under FIFA's existing leadership."

Carrard did make a concession to sponsors by letting them help choose two members of his advisory board.

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