News 23rd October 2015

Jérôme Champagne to stand in FIFA Presidential election

Jérôme Champagne, a former FIFA official and French diplomat, will stand as a candidate in the elections to become FIFA’s new President on 26 February 2016. ‘With determination and respect, I come before you again as candidate for the presidency of FIFA for the elections on 26 February 2016’, read a 21 October statement from Champagne (pictured), who withdrew from elections to replace current FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter on 31 January this year, as he was not put forward by a FIFA Member Association and failed to attract support from five of them, as required by changes to FIFA’s Electoral Regulations published in June 2014. ‘The events of the past few months have renewed my determination to be a candidate’.

Champagne, FIFA’s former Director of International Relations, resigned in 2010. The Guardian reported that his resignation was due to demands from the heads of some of FIFA’s confederations. Investigative journalist Andrew Jennings added that his departure may have been orchestrated by certain confederation bosses keen to stop his efforts to clean up FIFA.

In 2010, Jack Warner was Vice President of FIFA and President of CONCACAF, whilst Chuck Blazer was a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee and General Secretary of CONCACAF. FIFA banned Blazer from football for life in 2015, whilst Warner is currently fighting US extradition attempts, after being named in a 161-page Department of Justice (DoJ) indictment as being involved in various corruption charges.

‘My career at FIFA was cut short in January of 2010’, reads Champagne’s statement. ‘I lost my job as a result of pressures coming both from within the organization and externally. There is no need to delve into the reasons or the persons behind my ouster, as they are known by all.’

Champagne’s candidature is understood to be based on the same principles as his previous campaign, which are available here. He has also called for live TV debates between the candidates. ‘Let us organise public debates on television’, reads his statement. ‘These should be broadcast to the widest audience in each continent and made available on fifa.com. Once the official list of candidates has been published by the Electoral Commission, every candidate should be able to participate. I propose that we have three debates: one in December 2015, and one each in January and February 2016.’

Monday 26 October is the deadline for FIFA Presidential candidates to formally submit their application. FIFPro has said that each Presidential candidate must display four basic criteria:

1. Proven capacity to drive reform of a democratic and politically complex global body.
2. Governance record.
3. Human rights record.
4. Understanding of the game as a sport and business.

‘A clean break from the past is essential for FIFA to climb out of the toxic pit which continues to produce serious accusations of corrupt behaviour on almost a daily basis’, read a FIFPro statement. ‘There is no doubt the present mayhem has left FIFA morally bankrupt. FIFPro has previously stated its dissatisfaction as having no confidence in FIFA’s ability to reform from within […] FIFPro is afraid the current environment engulfing FIFA is not facilitating an effective election process and that it could produce an extremely harmful outcome. Even in the February 26 election date was delayed, it would be delaying the inevitable unless the FIFPro criteria outlined today is accepted as a minimum gold standard in selecting a future FIFA President.’

As previously reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative, Blatter has only ever said that he will not stand for election as the new President of FIFA – he has never actually said that he will step down. “On 26 February, FIFA will elect a new President”, Blatter said in a 20 July press conference (video below). “I will not be a candidate for the election in 2016 […] I cannot be the new President, because I am an old President”.

Blatter has not clarified what will happen if no candidates secure the support necessary for election. Under Article 17 of the Electoral Regulations for the FIFA Presidency, support is required from two-thirds of the FIFA members present at the February 2016 Extraordinary Congress at first ballot, and 50% after. Under Article 15 of the same regulations, the Ethics Committee is required to carry out an integrity check, which must be passed by Presidential candidates for them to be recommended by FIFA’s Ad-Hoc Electoral Committee. As Blatter is not a candidate, he would presumably not be subject to such a check.

Importantly, Blatter’s provisional suspension is for 90 days, expiring on 9 January 2016. However, even if it were extended for 45 days as FIFA’s announcement indicated it could be, it would expire on 20 February – six days before the FIFA Presidential elections.

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