KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: Brazilian football icon Pele – presented by Sepp Blatter with a special FIFA award only a week ago – wants to see Frenchman Jerome Champagne voted in as the world federation’s president in May next year.
Champagne, former FIFA executive who was ousted in January 2010, presented his candidacy here in London on the site where the Football Association was founded 150 years ago.
Current president Blatter has said he will announce at the start of June whether he will seek a fifth mandate next year. Other possible candidates include UEFA president Michel Platini, Spanish federation Angel Maria Villar and even current FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke.
Champagne admitted he not think he could beat Blatter in an election, suggesting that he believes there is a strong possibility that the veteran Swiss administrator will not run again.
Certainly Pele’s view was made clear in a video message presented by Champagne at the Grand Connaught Rooms.
Pele, a long-time friend of the 55-year-old Frenchman, said: “I support Jerome because, since 1996 when he used to be a part of the French Embassy in Brazil we became friends so I know his vision about football and about the future of the game.
“For this reason I trust him.
“We worked together for many years. When he talks about football it’s because he worries about the future of football because FIFA has had a lot of fighting and needs to pull together more for democracy.
“That’s the reason. Everything I have got in my life has come from football so of course I have to be with somebody who wants the best for football and I am sure he has the experience because he was in FIFA for a long time so that’s the reason.
“I am a friend of everyone who loves football but I want the best for football and he is a person everybody can trust . . . I trust him because I love football and I know everybody wants to see FIFA well organised and demoncratic and that’s the idea of Jerome Champagne.”