My campaign is still fizzing, says confident Champagne
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 00:00
LONDON (Reuters): Frenchman Jerome Champagne says there are no cracks in his FIFA presidential campaign with just over two weeks to go before he has to declare he has the backing of five national associations to allow his nomination to go ahead.
The 56-year-old former FIFA deputy secretary-general was the first to announce his candidature a year ago this month with Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan also declaring last week that he would run against incumbent president Sepp Blatter who is seeking a fifth term in office.
Last week Champagne said “it is easier to get 50 votes than five letters of support” and expanded on that remark to Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
Asked if he believed he would have the five nominations required for him to stand by the deadline of 29 January ahead of the 29 May election at the FIFA Congress in Zurich, Champagne said: “I am working towards that and nothing else. There is no crack in my resolve, and I am not back-peddling.
“I am talking to a lot of federations but with a deadline before the vote of four months it puts any FA under more pressure to hold their hands up, but I am in full blast on obtaining the five.
“But it is easier to get 50 votes in a secret ballot than breaking ranks and dissenting from the recommendations from the Confederation and saying ‘I am nominating Jerome Champagne and this is why’. If I have the five nominations, and I believe I will, I will stand.”
He continued: “There are three elements to this. The first is that some FAs believe that Blatter deserves another mandate for all he has done for football and they will vote for him.
“The second element is that some confederations have expressed ‘recommendations’ (for a block vote) and that places some FAs in a more difficult situation to drift away, and last but not least it is clear that Blatter is the clear favourite to win.
“Both Prince Ali and myself are the underdogs. That is the reality.
“I have based my campaign on telling the truth and the truth is there are no cracks in my resolve.”
Champagne declared his candidacy in London on 20 January last year and said a number of his innovative ideas have already been “taken up or recycled by football’s leaders.”
“Look at my idea for an orange card that has now been repainted as a white card by Michel Platini,” he said of his proposal that players guilty of dissent should be sin-binned for 10 minutes rather than yellow or red-carded.
“More and more people are beginning to talk about inequality in the game like Harald Strutz the president of Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga.”
There is no doubt though that Champagne’s ambitions have been challenged by the arrival of Prince Ali.
The 39-year-old Jordanian is currently sitting on FIFA’s executive committee in his role as the Asian confederation’s FIFA vice-president and has the backing of UEFA president Platini.
But the Asian Congress last week gave its backing to the 78-year-old Blatter, and, like Champagne, Prince Ali has an uphill task to unseat the ageing Swiss.
“Prince Ali’s campaign has made no difference to mine. So far the name of four people -- President Blatter, Prince Ali, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the former head of the Chile FA, and myself have all been named as interested parties in this race.