KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON —- Never mind all the hide-and-seek parlour games being played by Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini and (possibly) Angel Maria Villar. One man at least has had the nerve – or guts, if preferred – to come out and say that he wants to become president of world football FIFA next year.
That man is a Frenchman named Jerome – not Jerome Valcke, who is currently secretary-general and may have his own ambitions – but Jerome Champagne who spent a decade working for FIFA before losing one political battle too many and being evicted into the Zurich night air on January 15, 2010.
Champagne stood up in London today, at the Grand Connaught Rooms on the site where the Football Association was founded just over 150 years ago, and declared his candidacy.
Not only is he a rank outsider but the legal eagles at the Home of FIFA may even draw the red tape so tightly that his name never even ends up on the ballot paper back in Zurich at congress in May of next year.
In the meantime – not being encumbered by inter-dependent membership of the executive committee’s magic circle – he is freer than his likely opponents to say what he really thinks about the state of the world governing body and how it should be concentrating its resources.
Champagne wants the power balance within the world game adjusted to reduce the influence of the six geographical confederations, strengthen the involvement of the national associations and bring representatives of leagues, clubs and players directly into the executive committee.
He is also an advocate of the wider use of technology within football to support referees and believes – unlike Blatter and senior members of the current regime – in full transparency over wages and emoluments in FIFA.
Champagne also said in London that, after the candidates are known at the end of next January, they should engage in televised debates so fans – “and the game belongs to the fans” – can judge between the candidates themselves for the first time.
The one immediate hitch was Champagne’s admission that he did not believe he could defeat Blatter – if Blatter says he will run.
Champagne said: “I don’t know what he will do. I am telling you I am standing but I don’t know what will happen in the next four months.
“Some people say I am being manipulated by him but I am not. I am standing here on my own programme and I cannot answer a hypothetical question.”
The first candidate’s campaign website is already online at www.jeromechampagne2015.com
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