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Jun 5, 2006

FIFA plans new ethics committee to fight corruption

MUNICH, June 5 (Reuters) - FIFA plans a new independent ethics committee and the introduction of professional referees in a bid to fight widespread corruption.

Sepp Blatter, president of soccer's world governing body, said on Monday that the creation of the committee would be proposed at the 56th FIFA Congress in Munich on June 7 and 8.

'This will be our main proposal,' he said.

FIFA already has an ethics committee but the new independent body will have a far wider brief to include investigations into serious off-field transgressions such as illegal betting and bribery.

It will also act independently of the all-powerful FIFA executive committee, which largely runs the game in most other areas.

Blatter mentioned several scandals that had affected the game, including those involving a German referee found guilty of match-fixing last year and others in Brazil, Belgium, one in the Balkans and most recently Italy.

'Every time, where you see circles drawn, you know that the referee is at the heart of it,' he said.

Blatter added that it was imperative for professional referees to be introduced for all of the leading leagues.

'A man who is professional is more difficult to intimidate,' said Blatter.

AGAINST RACISM

Every player, referee and official at the World Cup has been asked to sign a pledge against racism and 'insider' betting and to ensure taht no-one in their families places any bets.

The FIFA president said the Task Force created to raise standards and increase transparency in the game had put forward several further proposals.

These have been supported by the executive committee and will be put forward among 13 motions at the Congress.

The others include the introduction of a global information-gathering process on club ownership and control, greater control of transfers and players' agents and the launch of an 'early warning system' on betting issues.

A proposal to restrict the number of clubs in professional leagues to 18 and to consider an insurance mechanism to resolve problems for players in 'club v country' insurance disputes was also carried forward for the Congress, said Blatter.

He would not be drawn on how 18-club leagues could happen but said a 'road map' towards that goal would begin to be drawn up after the World Cup.

'That cut from 20 to 18, or from 38 to 34 games is very important,' said Blatter. 'Those four more dates are very important for the players, the clubs and the fans. There is a danger of too much football for us all.'

On the vexed subject of players' insurance when they are released by clubs to play for their countries - the issue that has resulted in the G14-supported Charleroi case that has gone to court in Belgium - Blatter outlined a proposal.

He said that since players commit 80 per cent of their time to their clubs and only 15 to 20 per cent to their countries, the clubs should pay the insurance premiums and ask the countries to pay a proportional share.