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May 28, 2013

FIFA drops age-limit proposal

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius -- The FIFA executive committee dropped reform proposals Tuesday to limit the age and terms for its officials from the congress this week, saying "no consensus" has been reached on the issues among its member countries and a "more thorough analysis is required."

Following Tuesday's executive committee meeting chaired by president Sepp Blatter, FIFA said possible age and term limits would have to be "examined further" and the congress would be asked to put them back on the agenda for its 2014 annual meeting "with concrete proposals."

The two-day congress in Mauritius opens Thursday with its 209 member associations set to vote on various reforms.

Next year's congress will be in Sao Paolo, Brazil, ahead of the World Cup.

The 77-year-old Blatter had publicly opposed age limits for FIFA positions -- in contrast to the International Olympic Committee -- but the proposal was still expected to be put to member countries in Mauritius.

FIFA's board also said it fully supports a resolution from its anti-racism task force and would ask the 2013 congress to vote on what are likely to be proposals for sterner punishments for those found guilty of racist abuse. These should include a mandatory ban of five games for any player found guilty of racism in a game. The five-game ban currently in force only applies to international football.

The task force, led by FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb, had been set up after the recent re-emergence of racism, especially in Italy.

Blatter criticized a fine imposed by Italian football authorities on Roma for its fans' racist abuse of AC Milan players, claiming it wasn't large enough. The congress may now be asked to vote on bringing in compulsory and stricter punishments for teams if their fans, players or officials are found guilty of discrimination.

FIFA also rejected a request by the Yemen Football Association that a ban be lifted on the country hosting friendly and international games, saying the suspension remains for security reasons.

Yemen has been forced to play World Cup qualifiers and other internationals away from home since 2011 following ongoing political protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

FIFA has previously suspended the Yemen federation for political interference in its national football body.

Football's governing body at its pre-congress meeting also confirmed the dates this year for the Gold Cup, the main tournament involving CONCACAF national teams. The two-yearly event will run from July 7-28 in 2013.

An application by Switzerland to play its domestic cup final next year on May 25 was allowed, provided no international players selected for the World Cup took part. The date falls within FIFA's rest period ahead of the World Cup in Brazil from June 12 to July 13.

The committee also appointed new South American football president Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay as the chairman of the 2014 World Cup organizing committee. Figueredo took over as head of CONMEBOL from Nicolas Leoz, who resigned citing ill health before a FIFA ethics court ruling found that he -- along with ex-FIFA president Joao Havelange and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira -- accepted bribes from the sport marketing company ISL in the 1990s.

Figueredo took Leoz's place on FIFA's executive committee and attended his first meeting Tuesday, along with newly elected Asian Football Confederation president AFC president Sheik Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain and Sunil Gulati of the United States.

FIFA's executive committee said it has received bids to host the Under-20 World Cup in 2017 from Bahrain, France, South Korea, Mexico, Poland, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia and Ukraine. There were bids from India, Ireland, South Africa and Uzbekistan for the 2017 under-17 World Cup.

Norway, Ireland and South Africa are bidding for the 2016 Under-20 Women's World Cup; while Bahrain, Jordan, Ireland and South Africa have applied to stage the 2016 Under-17 Women's World Cup.

The hosts for those four tournaments will be chosen in December.

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