Corruption cases at FIFA will be conducted by a new chief investigator and heard by a new judge thanks to sweeping changes announced by the ruling council of world football’s governing body.
Swiss investigator Cornel Borbely and German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, who have combined to ban numerous football officials in recent years, will be replaced by Colombian prosecutor Maria Claudia Rojas and Greek judge Vassilios Skouris.
Both Borbely and Eckert had said they wished to continue their work, but Rojas and Skouris, who was president of the European Court of Justice from 2003 to 2015, certainly match them for credentials.
These moves were among a raft of FIFA Council decisions announced in Bahrain on Tuesday, two days before the 67th FIFA Congress, with new appointments made on the audit and governance committees too.
Aside from the personnel changes, FIFA also confirmed how many slots each of its six confederations would get at the 48-team World Cup in 2026.
As widely anticipated, UEFA sees its allocation grow from 13 to 16, with the other regional bodies all seeing more substantial increases.
Two of the new slots will be decided by what FIFA described in a statement as an “intercontinental play-off tournament involving six teams”, while the host’s automatic place will be deducted from its confederation’s quota.
In the event of co-hosts, as looks increasingly likely for 2026, the number of automatic places will be decided by the council.
On the subject of who will host the 2026 tournament, the council decided against ending the race now by simply giving it to the joint North American bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States but rivals from other confederations only have until August to declare their hands.
The short time-frame means the North American bid is almost guaranteed of victory, which should be confirmed at next year’s congress.
Other decisions reached by the council include lifting the ban on Iraq being able to play matches, providing the security situation remains stable in the proposed venues, and London being named as the host of the Best FIFA Football Awards 2017 on October 23.
The inaugural version of this event, which replaced the Ballon d’Or Gala, was held in Zurich in January, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Carli Lloyd and Claudio Ranieri taking the top prizes.