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Mar 19, 2013

CONCACAF seeking more panel influence

ZURICH -- The soccer region that includes the United States wants a bigger say at FIFA.

Jeffrey Webb, president of soccer's ruling body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he will urge his FIFA executive committee colleagues this week to look at how their influence is shared and how the panel's seats are allocated among the six continental confederations.

CONCACAF has three representatives in the 25-member committee. Webb wants that increased to four. He also says FIFA should give Asia and Africa greater influence by allotting each one extra committee member. Each currently has four.

"Right now, it's not on the table, there's no discussion and that is one of the disappointments from my standpoint," Webb said in an interview at the headquarters of FIFA, the sport's international governing organization.

The committee chaired by President Sepp Blatter begins a two-day session Wednesday. It is to approve a slate of reforms the 209 FIFA member nations will vote on in Mauritius in May 31.

"I am hoping this week will be the start of a discussion that FIFA starts to look at proportional representation throughout the confederations," Webb said. "There is a potential for us to miss an opportunity and I don't think we should."

The Cayman Islands banker will lead a three-man delegation representing his 35 FIFA member nations, along with Chuck Blazer of the United States and Rafael Salguero of Guatemala.

Africa (54 nations) and Asia (46) are individually outnumbered by eight committee members from European soccer's governing body, which represents 53 FIFA member countries. Europe traditionally has held most power since FIFA was formed by a handful of countries in Paris in 1904.

A reshuffle of executive committee members could come at the expense of UEFA's traditional influence.

"What was created (109) years ago does not necessarily reflect the realities, and I don't think is relevant to today's world," Webb said.

FIFA has put forth a reform program, and UEFA has published its suggestions. CONCACAF unanimously backed the slate proposed by a FIFA-appointed task force.

Webb said he has yet to discuss his proposal with UEFA President Michel Platini, who is a probable candidate to lead FIFA in 2015. The CONCACAF leader, however, supports Blatter's commitment to modernize the organization.

"He wants a FIFA that is transparent," Webb said. "He wants a FIFA that is built on solid foundations."

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