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Jan 20, 2014

Champagne may not stand if Blatter runs

Jerome Champagne has said he will stand for the 2015 FIFA presidential election -- but refused to confirm whether that would be the case if incumbent Sepp Blatter decided to run for the presidency again.

Jerome Champagne
Champagne wants to see a 'more democratic' FIFA.

The 55-year-old Frenchman joined world football's governing body in 1999 and was one of Blatter's key advisors until leaving in 2010.

Champagne has called for widespread changes to how the game is governed and wants to see a "more democratic, more respected" body. At the launch of his Hope for Football campaign in central London, he played a video in which he receives the backing of Pele.

• Marcotti: Champagne's campaign

"In 11 years with FIFA I was fortunate to be close to many brilliant things that happened," he said. "If we want to keep football universal, we need a different FIFA -- a FIFA which can do more.

"We will continue what has been done well in the last 40 years, but it can only be done if Fifa is relevant to the new world.

"It is a privilege to run for president. It is not a job. It is a mission."

Champagne directly addressed suggestions that he is no more than an "instrument" of 77-year-old Blatter to flush out opponents for this election, strongly denying them.

But he refused to confirm whether he would still run if Blatter, who has said he is not ready to retire, stood again. He said he did not think he would beat him in an election -- but did say the same about expected candidate Michel Platini. "He [Blatter] is someone of relevance," he said. "I don't know whether he will run or not. Of course, as matter of politeness, I informed him what I was planning to do.

"I don't know what he will do. Some people say I am manipulated by him, but I tell you: ‘No.' I stand because I believe in what I saying."

His plans for the future of the game include a system in which the game's wealthiest leagues would be ‘taxed' in order to aid development around the world.

"The role of FIFA in the economy of football is a mix of Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham," he said. "When a competition becomes very successful internationally, it takes a lot of money away from the local leagues.

"Do we want the N.B.A.-ification of football? Do we want an increasingly narrow game, where a tiny number of teams in the Champions League share all the money? FIFA is the only organisation that can balance this out."

Champagne also suggested the introduction of orange cards that would give a referee more leeway to adjudicate, quotas for foreign players, making public the salary of all leading FIFA officials and bringing in live debates for presidential candidates.

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