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Kuala Lumpur: The new AFC Governance Reform Task Force has met in full for the first time in 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Task Force kicked off its work by immediately examining the FIFA Reform Committee proposals due for submission to the FIFA Congress next week in Zurich. The Task Force noted that many governance reforms already implemented by the AFC were now being proposed at FIFA. Notably, the AFC already has term limits in place for its President as well as a minimum quota of female ExCo members: currently five out of 24 AFC ExCo members are female. FIFA is due to introduce a minimum quota of one in six female members.

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

On top of this, the AFC has also recently implemented the recommendations of a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report into governance in areas such as risk management, procurement, finance and HR. For example, the AFC now has policies in all these areas drafted with PwC’s help. 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 that is due to be adopted by FIFA as part of the Reforms Process.

Many questions arose about what the reforms would mean in practice, and discussions will continue when all AFC Member Associations debate the reforms at a specially convened meeting on Wednesday February 17, also in Kuala Lumpur.

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 from India, former Chief Justice of the Punjab, Zainudin Nordin from Singapore and Park Chang Joo from Korea Republic.

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 a 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 has now been started with the launch of the new AFC Vision and Mission on January 28 in Doha. The Task Force also examined how the new AFC Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework and the Internal Audit system were being implemented, whilst also receiving updates on the development of new AFC policies on whistleblowers and mitigating the risk of bribery and corruption.

The Task Force also made several new recommendations at the end of November 2015, including a request for audits to be performed on AFC Policies and Procedures in certain areas (HR, Finance and Procurement, two of which have already been completed). New recommendations also included the implementation of a new regulation for the commercialisation of AFC’s rights as well as strengthening controls on AFC distributions to Member Associations, such as via the AFC Financial Assistance Programme (AFAP).

Photo: AFC

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