FIFA Votes to Establish a "Good of the Game Task Force

MARRAKESH Morocco (Reuters) - The establishment of a task force with the power to tackle serious problems in soccer was overwhelmingly approved by delegates at the 55th FIFA Congress on Monday.

The new body to be known as the 'For the Good of the Game Task Force' has been created as FIFA becomes increasingly concerned about issues such as multi-club ownership corruption betting and bribery as well as the continued interference by some governments into the running of football in their countries.

Delegates voted 198-1 in favour of the establishment of the task force which FIFA president Sepp Blatter said would be composed of representatives from all walks of the game.

In his address to Congress Blatter said that although there were many positive aspects and encouraging developments in football there were also increasing dangers.

'We need to counter these risks. We need to be aware of these dangers. Where there is smoke there is fire and we need to put out the fires' he said.

Without naming the organisation directly he harshly criticised the group of G14 elite European clubs.

'There is a movement in club football which I don't necessarily consider a prime example of solidarity because it leads us to conclude the rich are getting richer and they are using everything in the market to create an exodus from Africa' he said.

'The gap is getting wider and wider. This is a problem you should be concerned about' he told delegates.

He also highlighted areas of non-compliance with FIFA statutes which includes clubs taking soccer-related problems to civil courts the multi-ownership of clubs and government interference in the running of national football associations.

'We have been accused of all sorts of things for example in the fight against doping when we were the ones who made headway first.

'We have been accused of other things and books will be published about football being destructive and evil. Perhaps we need to be more careful and pay more attention.'

But he said the time had come for FIFA to rise to the challenges that threaten the organisation.

It is planned that the Task Force will report directly to the executive committee and one of the strategies to be used by the new body will be to set up an early warning system to detect irregular betting patterns on matches.

The Task Force is also expected to work with police and other enforcement agencies to detect and prosecute those involved in trying to fix matches.

European soccer's governing body UEFA has been working closely with FIFA on ways to solve the problem which has grown alarmingly since the advent of internet betting.

FIFA and UEFA are also becoming increasingly concerned about rich individuals owning more than one club and their possible involvement in irregular transfer deals.

Among other matters resolved in the opening session of the Congress the first in FIFA'S 101-year history to be held in Africa the Congress suspended Yemen from membership by 184-5 votes because of government interference in the running of the national FA.

'It hurts me that we have to suspend a member' said Blatter 'but we also have a duty to protect our statutes.'