Champagne to take on Blatter

Jerome Champagne insists he will stand for the FIFA presidency next year, despite Sepp Blatter indicating his intention to be re-elected.

Last Updated: 16/06/14 at 17:11 Post Comment

Jerome Champagne: Intends to take on Sepp Blatter next year in election for FIFA

Jerome Champagne: Intends to take on Sepp Blatter next year in election for FIFA

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Champagne, FIFA president Blatter's one-time close advisor, is currently the only person to formally declare his intention to contest next year’s FIFA elections.  

And the 56-year-old Frenchman, who held senior positions at FIFA for 11 years before he was ousted in 2010, is looking to put his stamp on football's governing body - and reconcile its differences with the Football Association - if his campaign proves successful.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, he said: "There are two main issues which will need to be tackled. 

"The first is the growing inequalities in the game which are jeopardising the uncertainty of the sport and the second thing is to help FIFA enter the 21st Century, including revamping its image.

"I think we need to reconcile FIFA with the public opinion of football and this is also why I have decided to stand."

Champagne's call for transparency comes against a backdrop of corruption allegations relating to the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively, in 2010.

Last week, Blatter came in for arguably his most damning indictment yet with UEFA president Michel Platini, who himself has not ruled out standing for the FIFA presidency, saying he will no longer support him.

Dutch FA president Michael van Praag also told Blatter he should step down next year while FA chairman Greg Dyke said his claim that 'racism was behind World Cup corruption allegations in the British media' was offensive and totally unacceptable.

Blatter claimed the attacks were the 'most disrespectful' thing he has ever experienced, and Champagne admitted the 78-year-old's dedication and commitment to his job, and the organisation, could never be questioned.

"He is married to football. He is the first one in in the morning and the last one out at night. I have learned a lot from him."

Asked if he has confidence in FIFA's current investigation into the bidding process for the next two World Cups, he said: "Absolutely. I am really very happy with the investigation taking place even though I don't know what the outcome of that will be. 

"I watched Michael Garcia, the chairman of the investigation chamber of the ethics committee. He was brilliant, he was strong and I do hope and trust that committee to do a good job because we need to know. It's part of the rebuilding image."

On the chances of restaging the process for the 2022 finals in Qatar, should corruption be proved, Champagne added: "Let's wait. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

"I am someone who spent my first diplomatic assignment in the Arab Gulf. I love the culture over there and I think it is good that we take the World Cup to regions in the world which have never hosted the competition.

"Secondly, in a democracy, the principle is innocent until proven guilty. However, the allegations in the media are absolutely stunning. We talk about political influence we talk about buying votes and conniving between bidders for 2018 and 2022.

"The World Cup - and we can see that today - is so important for the people of football that we need to know. Of course, according to the outcome, we will have to decide and as I have said since I declared my candidacy in London in January, all the options have to be on the table."

And Champagne is desperate to reconcile the governing body with the Football Association after their public falling-out over the corruption allegations last week.

"I fully support Greg Dyke when he said we need a democratic election with more than one candidate," he added. "My vision is about reconciling FIFA with English football because we have a joint responsibility.

"English football is definitely one of the most successful in the world because it is the most equal league in the world which distributes the money the most equally between the teams finishing first and 20th.

"For that reason part of my platform is about reconciling English football and FIFA as we have to work hand in hand for the development of football whether it is in India or Africa."

Champagne, and other candidates, need five nominations from football associations around the world and he believes he has enough support behind his candidancy.

"You have to understand that the election is in a year and some pressures could be exercised on FA's, so I wont reveal names at this stage," he said.

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