KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: Jerome Champagne is a decent man with football’s interests at heart and he wants to be president of FIFA. Well, he says he wants to stand for the presidency when it’s time to be counted by next January’s deadline.
There is a difference.
Champagne says he is planning to run a D-I-Y campaign; no slick PR gurus oiling his political path, no financial backer apart from his own savings since he was abrutly ousted from FIFA four years ago after losing one political battle too many.
His proposals are not for a French revolution but a French evolution. A number of the issues he raised on his re-emergence into the fray two years ago have been addressed by the FIFA reform process directed by Mark Pieth.
Like the Basel governance professor he believes that FIFA missed a significant gesture towards transparency when it refused to reveal the specific wages and emolument paid to its senior directors such as president Sepp Blatter and secretary-general Jerome Valcke. A minor administrative point but a major public statement.
Champagne had mouths dropping all around his media launch in London when he admitted he did not believe he could defeat Blatter in the election in May 2015 if the president decides he wants to run for a fifth mandate.
But at least Champagne was being straightforwardly transparent and honest: these are qualities noted too much for their absence over the last few years in FIFA than their presence.
Perhaps Champagne has reason for thinking Blatter will not stand; perhaps he is hoping to hurry another fellow Frenchman, Michel Platini, to come out of the UEFA woodwork.
Champagne’s assessment of world football’s challenges is unarguable: basically, he sees the game as in danger of falling victim to its own unassailable popularity and success.
He wants a rebalancing of the structures of power within FIFA; this is, to be fair, is something Blatter has also wanted for a long time. However exco turkeys do not vote for Christmas and Champagne proposed no mechanism to plough up an entrenched self-serving inside track.
He has valuable ideas but, to put them over effectively, badly needs to sharpen his delivery.
Bullet points, rather than lengthy assessments and analyses, are needed to shoot down the old guard.