David Ginola paid £250,000 by bookmaker in FIFA presidency bid
It took a 250,000-pound payment from a stunt-prone bookmaker to persuade former France international David Ginola to launch an improbable bid to unseat FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Former Tottenham and Newcastle midfielder Ginola, 47, plans to challenge incumbent Sepp Blatter for the top job in world football, with the 78-year-old Swiss -- who has been in office since 1998 -- having indicated he will seek a fifth term.
FIFA has not issued any statement or commented regarding Ginola's eligibility to run and it is unclear whether he will fulfil the criteria as a FIFA candidate. He will need the backing of at least five national associations and will have to demonstrate active involvement in football administration for at least two of the last five years.
Bookmakers Paddy Power has a history of publicity stunts in sport, one of the most memorable being when Nicklas Bendtner was fined 100,000 euros and banned for one competitive match for wearing sponsored Paddy Power underwear during one of Denmark's games at Euro 2012.
A spokesman for the bookmaker confirmed on Friday: "This campaign is all about transparency and we are paying David 250,000 pounds for the campaign and for being here [at the press conference] today. It is his full-time job now and, hopefully, will be for the next four months."
It states on the campaign's website, teamginola.com, that the 250,000 pounds from Paddy Power has been placed directly into a crowd-funding account for the bid. The pledge is, as noted on the site, "David Ginola's fee." He is hoping to raise another 1.8 million pounds from public donations to be able to fund the campaign.
Earlier this month, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, a member of FIFA's executive committee and a vice-president of the world governing body, announced he would stand against Blatter at the FIFA Congress in May. Former FIFA deputy secretary general Jerome Champagne also insists he remains intent on running for office.
Ginola is inviting members of the public and other organisations to join "Team Ginola" in a bid to challenge Blatter. His bid has the backing of pressure group ChangeFIFA, which has long campaigned for new leadership at the top of an organisation that has faced numerous allegations of corruption.
He faced the press on Friday morning, sitting next to Paddy himself from Paddy Power.
Asked if he would even qualify to run for the presidency, he said: "I've been working in many things. I work for a club in the south of France, and give my advice to those guys who needed help at the time.
"In 2010, I passed my badges down in Wales. I think the most important thing is I do care about the game. That's the most important thing. I do believe that I can stand in front of you and say that I can be the next president because I want to share my ideas, my view on the game. I want a fair game.
"Three things are very important: transparency, democracy, and equality. That's the main thing I want to achieve.
"The first thing is to get the first associations [to back the bid]. That will be the task in the next few days."
Ginola's credibility was further hit when he was unable to name any members of FIFA's executive committee: "I need obviously to know a lot more about FIFA. The most important thing I guess is to be standing in front of you today, thinking, well, what can I change? What can I do for the game?
"Crucial to that element is the right of football fans to have a say in who will represent them at the highest level in the game. We will deliver a new and fair democratic process.
"The football community will be asked to elect our officials. There's no room for doubt in football. If we cannot remove all suspicion and doubt from football, then how can we trust?"
Ginola added in a video posted on the website: "I'm standing because like you, I love football. Whether you are on the terraces or on the pitch we all know that the FIFA system isn't working. The game needs to change, but I can't change it on my own. I need you to stand up and change it with me. I need you in my team.
"By joining Team Ginola you are saying 'yes' to a FIFA built on democracy, transparency and equality. You are saying 'yes' to a FIFA which cares about one thing -- football.''
Ginola campaigned for England's unsuccessful bid for the 2018 World Cup which attracted only two votes.
FIFA's eligibility rules on standing for FIFA president state: ''The candidate shall have played an active role in association football [as a board member, committee member, referee and assistant referee, coach, trainer and any other person responsible for technical, medical or administrative matters in FIFA, a confederation, association, league or club or as a player] for two of the last five years before being proposed as a candidate.
''The candidate shall present declarations of support from at least five member associations.''