While Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are keeping their power dry, ex-FIFA official Jerome Champagne has come out as a candidate for the FIFA presidency next year.
Champagne stood up in London today, at the Grand Connaught Rooms on the site where the Football Association was founded just over 150 years ago, and declared his candidacy.
He also unveiled a video message of support from Brazilian icon Pele who said he “trusted” his long-time friend to take FIFA forward in a more democratic way.
With or without Pele’s support, Champagne is a rank outsider. The legal eagles at the Home of FIFA may even draw the red tape so tightly around the technicalities of the procress that his name may never even end up on the ballot paper back in Zurich at congress in May of next year.
In the meantime – not being encumbered by inter-dependent membership of the executive committee’s magic circle – he is freer than his likely opponents to say what he really thinks about the state of the world governing body and how it should be concentrating its resources.
Champagne wants the power balance within the world game adjusted to reduce the influence of the six geographical confederations, strengthen the involvement of the national associations and bring representatives of leagues, clubs and players directly into the executive committee.
He is also an advocate of the wider use of technology within football to support referees and believes – unlike Blatter and senior members of the current regime – in full transparency over wages and emoluments in FIFA.
Champagne also said in London that, after the candidates are known at the end of next January, they should engage in televised debates so fans – “and the game belongs to the fans” – can judge between the candidates themselves for the first time.
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 democratic and that’s the idea of Jerome Champagne.”
The first candidate’s campaign website is already online at www.jeromechampagne2015.com