ZURICH: Jerome Champagne is back as a contender for the FIFA presidency after formally submitting his candidacy three days ahead of the nominations deadline writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Last time around the Frenchman, after being the first declare himself a challenger for the election in May, had to step aside after securing only three of the essential five nominations from national associations.
This time, just to be on the safe side, he has eight nominations and – equally as important – both his former FIFA antagonists, fellow Frenchmen Michel Platini and Jerome Valcke, are out of the way.
The French president of European federation UEFA and the FIFA secretary-general were both suspended for 90 days by the ethics committee two weeks ago after separate allegations of financial misconduct.
Last February Champagne criticisied the “mobilisation” of “institutions” against him.
This time, in parallel with his nomination registsration, he has written to all 209 member associations of FIFA to state his case.
No candidate in any FIFA election to date has thought through the short-term and long-term challenges facing the game as diligently and comprehensively as Champagne who spent 11 years in senior roles at FIFA before being ousted in January 2010 after losing one political battle too many .
In his letter, Champagne said:
“The events of the past few months have renewed my determination to be a candidate.
“At a time when FIFA, our FIFA, needs more than ever an open debate about its future, its reform and the reform of football, we are witnessing the first months of the electoral campaign being dominated by controversy and deals made behind closed doors.
“At a time when football, our football, is suffering along with our planet and society from the increasing level of inequalities, we have to assert the need to better control the globalisation of our sport.
“We must continue the efforts to improve the spectacle of elite football and, at the same time, reduce the inequalities for the benefit of everyone.”
Champagne’s letter includes plans to modernise how the under-fire governing body is run, fight inequality – including cuts to European places at FIFA and the World Cup – and to trial the use of video review to help referees. However, he is keen to ensure that football’s wealth is spread more evenly amongst the world game.
He said: “The 20 wealthiest clubs in the world have a cumulative turnover of €6.2bn ($7.05bn) per year, but more than half the 209 national football federations survive with less than €2m a year (each),” he told the Reuters news agency.
“The national team of Papua New Guinea plays only two matches a year because they cannot afford the plane tickets. The annual budget is not even half a million euros.”
Champagne was not linked to personal corruption during and since his 11 years working at FIFA and has always refuted suggestions that he was too closely associated with Blatter.
Other nomination submissions have been entered by Platini – before his suspension – former Trinidad and Tobago international midfielder David Nakhid and former FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.