Football: Champagne to take another shot at Fifa presidency

Former FIFA official Jerome Champagne  is to make another bid for the FIFA presidency.
Former FIFA official Jerome Champagne is to make another bid for the FIFA presidency.PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH (REUTERS) - Frenchman Jerome Champagne is to make another bid for the Fifa presidency, saying that soccer's governing body needs to be saved from collapse and the World Cup protected.

Champagne, who held four different posts at Fifa, including deputy secretary-general, between 1999 and 2010, said the organisation was "in danger" after being buffeted by a wave of scandals over the last few years.

"We need to save Fifa and its role of governance and redistribution, which is in danger at a time when they are needed the most," said Champagne in a letter to Fifa's 209 member associations, which will choose the next president at a Congress on Feb 26.

"We must also restore Fifa's credibility and prepare it for the challenges of an ever-evolving world.

"We must protect the World Cup as that moment of planetary communion during which the pride in our colours and friendship among people of the world are truly at the altar."

Fifa was thrown into turmoil in May when the US Department of Justice indicted 14 football officials and sports marketing executives on a series of corruption charges.

In June, president Sepp Blatter announced that he would lay down his mandate, just four days after being re-elected for a fifth four-year term.

Earlier this month, Blatter and Uefa president Michel Platini, who had been the favourite to replace him, were both suspended for 90 days pending an ethics investigation.

Champagne had wanted to run in the election earlier this year but failed to get the written backing from five national football associations (FAs) which is needed to register.

With the Oct 26 deadline for nominations looming, Jordanian Prince Ali Al Hussein and former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder David Nakhid have announced their candidacies.

Former Brazil World Cup player Zico also wants to run but has said he is struggling to get the backing of five FAs and Asian soccer chief Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain has said he is taking soundings about a possible run.

Champagne confirmed to Reuters that he had the five FAs, said he would not comment on rival candidates and criticised the way in which the campaign had been conducted.

"We are witnessing the first months of the electoral campaign being dominated by controversy and deals made behind closed doors," he said.

He called for three televised debates between the candidates, in December, January and February.

"Fifa also deserves a proper debate about its future," he said. "Errors have been made and they must be corrected... with no whitewash."

Champagne said he wanted to address the financial gap between a few wealthy clubs and the rest of the sport. He said clubs were losing identity and "prefer to trade their young talent rather than groom them into active members of their squad".

His proposals included giving more places to "under-represented" continental confederations such as Africa's on Fifa's executive committee and at the World Cup, and including players, clubs and leagues in decision-making.

On the field, his proposals include a so-called orange card, which would mean a temporary sending-off for the player concerned, and more respect for referees, who would be able to punish dissent by moving a free kick forward by 10 metres as in rugby.