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Kuala Lumpur: The new Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Governance Reform Task Force met on Wednesday in full for the second time in 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and examined in detail the recent FIFA reforms, as well as the creation of a detailed AFC Whistleblower Policy – which would be a first for any major international sports organisation.

The task force was pleased that the AFC’s longstanding rules had now been implemented by FIFA, such as presidential term limits and a minimum quota of female Executive Committee (ExCo) members. The AFC Governance Reform Task Force member Justice Mukul Mudgal (Retd.) and Deputy Chair Muhannad Fahmi Hamad have been appointed as independent Deputy Chair and member of the FIFA Governance Committee respectively.

The AFC has also gone further than FIFA, including setting an age limit of 70 for the President and all AFC ExCo members. In order to separate the political from the operational, the AFC has a non-Executive President system with an empowered General Secretary and team of high-level Directors acting without day-to-day political influence.

In addition, the AFC has also recently implemented the recommendations of a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report on governance in areas such as risk management, procurement, finance and human resources.  The AFC now has policies in all these areas drafted with PwC’s assistance. Areas such as procurement have been further strengthened with a separate department now responsible for purchasing. Audit and compliance have also been reinforced, with internal audit staff now reporting to the independent Chair of the Audit Committee: another improvement adopted by FIFA as part of its reforms.

The AFC Governance Reform Task Force is chaired by HRH Prince Abdullah Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah of Malaysia, and his deputy is financial expert Muhannad Fahmi Hamad of Bahrain, who is also the independent Chair of the AFC Audit Committee. The other members are Justice Mukul Mudgal (Retd.), former Chief Justice of Punjab from India, Zainudin Nordin from Singapore and Park Chang Joo from Korea Republic.

Other items on the agenda included:

  • AFC policies and procedures on bribery and corruption risk;
  • Controls on the financial distributions to the AFC Member Associations;
  • New regulations on the commercialisation of AFC’s rights;
  • Follow-ups to the PwC governance recommendations of 2012, including a review of internal audits of procurement and HR;
  • Review of the different governance assessment tools for international sports federations (Sports Governance Observer, BIBGIS, etc.);
  • Stakeholders: how best to include Asian football’s stakeholders in the AFC’s future decision-making processes.

The AFC Executive Committee, at its meeting in New Delhi on November 27, 2015, endorsed the initial recommendations of the Task Force. These recommendations included a detailed follow up on the work of the former Ad Hoc Evaluation Committee, as well as several new recommendations. The Task Force had been mandated by the AFC Executive Committee to monitor how the 11 recommendations made by the previous AFC governance body, the AFC Ad Hoc Evaluation Committee, were being implemented.

The previous recommendations included the need for the AFC to have an agreed strategy in place to improve accountability, which is now being implemented with the launch of the new AFC Vision and Mission in Doha on January, 28, 2016.

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