ZURICH: Jerome Champagne considers the latest Qatar storm justifies his concern that the six regional confederations command too much power at the pinnacle of the game writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Frenchman Champagne is the only formally declared candidate for next year’s FIFA presidential election. One of the features of his ‘manifesto’ is an urgent need to restructure the executive committee to return power to the national associations.
Currently delegates to the 27-strong exco are chosen by the six confederations from Africa (CAF), Asia (AFC), central/north America (CONCACAF), Europe (UEFA), Oceania and South America (CONMEBOL).
Champagne believes that the president should have a say in the make-up of his ‘cabinet’ to avoid being a puppet dancing to the tune of confederation power blocks.
He envisages a “majority of [exco] seats being FA presidents elected in the congress [to] find a better balance between continents to correct under-representation.” He also wanted players’ union FIFPro, clubs and leagues represented in the exco.
Similar concerns about the blocking power of the confederations have been expressed by Basel governance expert Mark Pieth who led the FIFA reform process.
Media reports this week have alleged that Bin Hammam made illicit payments totalling $5m to African and Caribbean officials during Qatar’s bid to win 2022 World Cup host rights and his own – ultimately vain – pursuit of the FIFA presidency.
Questions have also been raised about the probity of UEFA president Michel Platini in voting for Qatar after heavy pressure from the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Champagne said: “For me the national FAs are the real ‘parliament’ of football in which to balance the needs of amateur and professional football, club and national team football, short-term ojectives and long-term goals such as youth training.
“FIFA was created by them and for them.”
However too much had been ‘captured’ by the confederations which had no formal membership status within FIFA.
“This has had the effect of switching the focus from national football to continental one, from a balanced approach of the game to a more commericalised aspect.”
The result has seen FIFA decisions taken by “blocks rather than individuals representing the FAs.”
Champagne added: “FIFA is blamed for the behaviour of the members of the pyramid. But review the controversies and allegations of the past years and months, and you will see that it circles around confederations’ presidents.”