ZURICH: Jerome Champagne wants all the FIFA presidency candidates to engage in televised public debates about the future of the game in general and the world governing in particular writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Champagne, a former French diplomat who held various roles at FIFA for 11 years until 2010, sought to stand in the last election in May but failed to obtain the necessary five nominations.

This time around he has those nominations and has been approved by the electoral committee along with Gianni Infantino (Switzerland), Prince Ali bin Al Hussein (Jordan), Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifda (Bahrain) and Tokyo Sexwale (South Africa).

In an open letter this week to the worldwide football community Champagne insisted that events of the last days only underlined a need to maintain and reiterate the fundamental values of the game.

He said: “Faced with the barbarities in Ndjamena, in Nigeria, in Mogadishu and Beirut, in Tunisia and Iraq, in a Russian civilian airplane above the Sinai and again in Paris, and those that have plagued the Middle East for such a long time, we must stand united and show that football will not be intimidated by fear or threats.

“We must of course take the appropriate security precautions, but we must play our competitions.

Uniting strength

“In this troubled and divided world, football has the strength to unite us no matter where we come from, no matter the colour of our skin, our ethnicity, our religious belief, or our personal life choices.”

Champagne insisted he wanted the campaign leading up to the election on February 26 to focus on “ideas and visions about the future of football and FIFA” rather than “slogans or personality issues, with their inherent baggage of innuendos, underhanded tactics or double-entendre phrases.”

Hence he was repeating his previous demand for a need “to organise televised public debates with all the candidates.”

Champagne sees this as a key step towards “rebuilding the stronger and more transparent relationship that must exist between FIFA and the world football community.”

He had obtained informal support from media outlets, such as BBC, CNN and ESPN and would welcome more channels to ensure the rebroadcasting of the debates around the world.

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