By Simon Evans
ZURICH (Reuters) - Scandal-plagued CONCACAF, the soccer confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean, on Thursday voted for wide-ranging reforms after being warned by its lawyers of serious consequences if it failed to change its structure.
Miami-based CONCACAF, one of the six confederations within FIFA, has been at the center of the scandal at world soccer's governing body, which has seen 41 individuals and entities indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
FIFA is due to vote on its own reform plans on Friday, before electing a new president to replace the banned Sepp Blatter.
Representatives of CONCACAF's 41-member associations were given a briefing by the body's lawyers in Miami earlier this month where they were urged to back a comprehensive reform package.
The lawyers warned of difficulties with broadcast partners, sponsors and banks, FIFA itself and the risk of government action, including possible disbandment, if change was not enacted.
After a lengthy debate on minor details of the reforms, CONCACAF delegates, gathered in a Zurich hotel, voted unanimously for the reform package.
The reforms will separate a representative Council, charged with policy formulation, from a General Secretariat, which will handle day-to-day business matters.
A new independent Ethics Committee will be formed and a series of positions will be held over on committees for independent figures without links to the game.
The CONCACAF Council will include three non-voting independent members and all elected officials will be subject to a 12-year term limit.
"Today is a landmark day for football governance in CONCACAF, we fully understand that it is the start of a long journey but today is a very important day," said Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani, a member of the CONCACAF Executive Committee.
"The membership came together to make significant changes -- yes, organizational changes but also an opportunity for cultural change too," he said.
The last three CONCACAF presidents have all been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of its probe into corruption in the game.
(Reporting By Simon Evans; editing by Toby Davis)