Champagne ponders presidential bid

2015-06-12 11:33
Jerome Champagne (Gallo Images)

Zurich - Former FIFA official Jerome Champagne said he is considering whether to make another run for the presidency of soccer`s global governing body and called for whoever gets the job to heal the rift between Europe and the rest of the world.

The Frenchman, who was a diplomat until he played an official role in the 1998 World Cup in France, warned that the majority of FIFA's members would not accept it if the game fell under control of what he described as the G7, meaning wealthy European federations and clubs.

In February, Champagne pulled out from the race to challenge Sepp Blatter in last month's presidential election after failing to win sufficient backing for his bid.

Blatter won the election to gain a fifth mandate but rocked the world of soccer four days later by saying he would step down as FIFA president in the wake of a corruption investigation by United States prosecutors. That probe has led to the indictment of nine current or former soccer officials and five company executives on bribery and other corruption charges.

Asked whether he was considering another bid, Champagne told Reuters: "Of course, I'm thinking, I've not decided but I've not excluded anything."

Champagne would have to gather written nominations from five national associations to stand, something he failed to do last time.

Between 1999-2010 he held four different posts at FIFA - including deputy secretary general - but left the organization after falling out of favour. Despite that, he says he believes Blatter is being blamed far too much for FIFA's current problems, noting that current and former executive committee members indicted were nominated by the regional confederations.

A key point of Champagne's reform program is for members of the powerful executive committee to be elected by the 209 member associations at a Congress rather than by the continental confederations as currently happens. He said he also believes the president should be able to choose a number of the members in the same way a country`s leader might choose a cabinet.

The problem with the current system is that the president has to work with a committee he had no say in choosing.

"We need to hand power back to the national football associations," he said.

Champagne repeated the message from his previous campaign, that the key issue facing the sport is the unequal distribution of wealth.

"We have the 20 wealthiest clubs of Western Europe, having a cumulative turnover of 6.2 billion euros ($6.94 billion), while more than 100 federations around the world survive with less than 2 million," he said.

"We have one percent of the clubs, federations, leagues and players, who have's not that there is not enough money in football, the problem is it is badly distributed."

FIFA is in danger of becoming dangerously split with most European associations voting for Blatter's rival Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein at the last election and Blatter pulling in votes from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

"If FIFA is taken over by someone who is perceived as at the service of the wealthiest part, this guy will have problems because we need regulation and redistribution.

"They don't want a G7 running the game, maybe (they will accept) a G20; any guy who is perceived as running a G7 has no chance."

Read more on:    fifa  |  fifa bribery scandal  |  soccer

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