Former French diplomat Jerome Champagne has announced his intention of challenging Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency at next year’s elections.
Last week, Blatter announced that he would seek a fifth term in office as the head of world football’s governing body, citing ‘unfinished business’ as the main reason to run for re-election.
“You see a mission is never finished. And my mission is not finished,” said Blatter.
“I got through the last congress in Sao Paulo not only the impression but the support of the majority, a huge majority of national associations asking: ‘Please go on, be our president also in future.'”
Champagne needs the approval of five member football associations, with the associations to be announced in the official declarations which take place in January of next year.
Nevertheless, the 56-year-old believes there is an urgent need to rebalancing of FIFA due to ‘economic polarisation’ amongst other detrimental matters.
“I have just written to the Fifa Ad-hoc Electoral Committee and its president, Mr Domenico Scala, to confirm my intention to run for Fifa president,” he wrote on his website.
“We have to take clear and informed decisions on whether we want to continue with the current economic polarisation, and the sporting imbalances it brings in its wake, or be willing to rebalance the game in our globalised 21st century.
“The next 10 years will be crucial for football and very particularly for Fifa, which is at a crossroads and in need of sweeping changes that must take it further than what has been accomplished to date.”
Champagne is a former French diplomat who held the position from 1983 to 1998. Following the 1998 World Cup, however, he became a consultant in international football, serving at FIFA from for over a decade.
Since joining FIFA, he held the positions of international adviser to the President (1999–2002), Deputy Secretary General (2002–2005), Delegate of the President (2005–2007) and finally Director of International Relations (2007–2010) where he worked closely with Blatter.
His chances of potentially beating the current president in the elections, which will be held in June of next year, are considered, with the 56-year-old admitting earlier this year that he isn’t the favourite to prevail: “No, I don’t think I can beat Blatter. He is someone of relevance and we’ll see but it’s a very hypothetical question. A lot of things can happen.”
However, Champagne is known to be a visionary of sorts, his ideas are well thought out and many believe that he is the ideal candidate to address FIFA’s issues. In addition, he is keen to work closely with referees to improve the decision making processes of the game including the introduction of an orange card and a sin bin amongst other things.
“The election must not just be a coronation,” he said. “We should have public debates in the congresses of the six confederations and debates on television for viewers and fans to ask questions.
“I want full transparency for this election to push the debate forward.”
Time will tell how this all pans out. Beating Blatter, who is established in his role, is no easy task. However, with corruption amongst other things having already damaged the reputation of FIFA, change is needed. And many might see Champagne as the answer to the governing body’s chronic problems.
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