Sports Minister vows to keep FIFA honest

PETER CAVE: The Australian Government says the plans to reform FIFA are long overdue.

The Sports Minister Mark Arbib has told AM he'll be watching closely to ensure that corruption is weeded out of the game's administration.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: The Football Federation Australia may have, in the end, backed Sepp Blatter, but the FIFA boss is on notice, as far as Australia's Sports Minister is concerned.

MARK ARBIB: He has said that he will take on reform in the organisation and he now must do that. President Blatter has a great deal of work to do. He and his organisation have to get on with it.

SIMON SANTOW: But is he the right person to carry out that reform given he's had so long in charge already?

MARK ARBIB: Well the football associations of the world have elected him as their president. He has publicly said on the record last night in his speech that he will reform the organisation.

SIMON SANTOW: Mark Arbib says he's concerned the reforms will end up being watered down.

MARK ARBIB: Reform is necessary. What FIFA requires is action that took place in the IOC after Salt Lake City when the IOC cleaned up its game and that is exactly what FIFA now requires and of course the voting members of FIFA need to ensure that president Blatter is held to his word.

He has said he'll reform the organisation, it's time for that to take place.

SIMON SANTOW: Until now, Mark Arbib has trod carefully around the issue. Contrastingly, British MP, Damian Collins has thrown aside diplomatic niceties.

He's openly campaigned for more political interference in FIFA and root and branch reform of soccer's governing body.

DAMIAN COLLINS: There's supposed to be an election with two candidates and we ended up with a coronation for one so it wasn't what we needed for FIFA, which was a proper election, a proper debate, and I think the election of a new reforming president of FIFA.

SIMON SANTOW: Damian Collins acknowledges that England is outnumbered when it comes to FIFA politics.

DAMIAN COLLINS: I was encouraged to see though that a number of countries did abstain, it wasn't just one or two lone voices. Other countries realised that they should abstain and they should make a mark.

I think the important thing now is that the momentum of the last few days isn't lost and that the pressure for reform continues.

SIMON SANTOW: Do you think that Sepp Blatter has got that message that there is a need for reform?

DAMIAN COLLINS: Well he had something to say about that today and on one level I welcome some of the things he had to say, particularly giving all members of the FIFA council the final vote on where the World Cup goes.

But these are a few crumbs from the table. I think he was like, watching someone trying to carpet over an earthquake, you know. It was a gloss, a veneer and I don't think that he's serious about the kind of real reform that FIFA needs.

SIMON SANTOW: He says FIFA's Ethics Committee needs more teeth and independence.

SBS commentator Les Murray is one of 13 members charged with investigating corruption.

LES MURRAY: The committee that I've been on for the last five years since 2006 is totally independent, I can vouch for that. There's never any, even the slightest sign of an attempt to interfere with or to influence the committee in any shape or form.

PETER CAVE: SBS commentator and member of the FIFA Ethics Committee, Les Murray, ending Simon Santow's report.