Francois Carrard defends Sepp Blatter, says FIFA has only 'a few rogues'

Francois Carrard, the man appointed to lead FIFA's reform commission, says Sepp Blatter has been unfairly pilloried, the FIFA corruption case involves "only a few rogues" and that football in the United States is just "an ethnic sport for girls in schools."

Swiss lawyer Carrard, a former director general of the International Olympic Committee, made the comments in an interview with Le Matin in which he revealed his intentions for the reform process.

Carrard said he was convinced there was a will within FIFA to reform and that it is in a "deep crisis."

Asked about Blatter, who is stepping down in February, Carrard added: "There is something unfair in the way he has been treated. He certainly made mistakes, but he also brought positive elements.

"Unfortunately, it's always like that when somebody stays too long, the negative takes over. This man is being treated unfairly. And if we talk about corruption ... I have on my table all the U.S. proceedings. In the indictment, there is not a word against him. Nothing."

Carrard also said he struggled to understand why the United States had become involved in FIFA as football was not "a true American sport."

He added: "For the U.S., football, soccer, does not have the same weight as baseball, basketball and American football. There, it's just an ethnic sport for girls in schools. In addition, the case involves only a few 'rogues,' including at the FIFA executive committee, who have filled their pockets from continental competitions."

Carrard was at the IOC when the Salt Lake City corruption scandal erupted and the organisation faced a similar crisis to the one currently being experienced by FIFA.

Outlining plans for the FIFA reform commission, he said two people appointed by sponsors will sit on a separate independent board to oversee the process.

He added that he made having the five-strong advisory board a pre-condition of accepting the position and that it will work as a counter-balance to the FIFA-appointed reform commission if he is not happy with its work.

Two of the five names will be agreed with FIFA's main sponsors, and Carrard will approach other figures "of experience, wisdom and international stature" to sit on the board.

It means sponsors' representatives will not, as originally planned, sit on the commission itself, which will be made up of the 12 people appointed by the six FIFA confederations plus Carrard.

He also revealed he refused to have the reform commission based at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich and instead will have it in Berne.

Carrard said: "When I was offered the position, the reform commission members had been appointed by the FIFA executive committee on proposals from six continental confederations. I had not had any say, so I asked to nominate a fully independent advisory board of five members.

"I will choose them -- I can approach the Pope or Lady Gaga, if it amuses me! I want personalities of experience, wisdom, international stature, who have had to cope with crises, but who do not necessarily come from sport.

"Last Thursday, I met representatives of sponsors and we agreed that two of the five personalities [on the board] would be chosen jointly.

"It will allow me, if I am not happy with the work of the Commission reforms, to have a counterweight, to create a balance."