Jerome Champagne confirms intention to run for FIFA presidency

32m ago

Having spent 11 years serving as an executive for FIFA, Jerome Champagne is now looking to dethrone Sepp Blatter as the world governing body's president.

Champagne, a former diplomat who vowed to run against Blatter back in May, took to his official website on Monday to officially announce his intention to run for the position, stating that "my passion for football and my love of the world are the source of my strong will to bring about and crystallize a collective project to which we can all contribute."

Per jeromechampagne2015.com:

I have the honor of informing you that I have just written to the FIFA Ad-hoc Electoral Committee and its president, Mr. Domenico Scala, to confirm my intention to run for FIFA president.

This confirmation has of course been made in according with the current FIFA regulations and in line with the announcement of my candidature of 20 January 2014 in London, in the same location where The Football Assocation was founded in 1863, the first of the 209 FIFA member associations.

On a personal level, I am happy that the debate about the future of FIFA and football has finally begun with the prospect of various candidates.

Since last working for FIFA in 2010, Champagne has worked as an advisor to numerous football federations and was a football commissioner for the World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal.

Although Blatter was expected to step down from his post as FIFA president, he confirmed last week that he'd had a change of heart and will indeed run for a fifth term.

The election is scheduled for May and will take place at the FIFA congress.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

Sept 8, 9:17 AM

Sepp Blatter confirms he will seek re-election for 5th term as FIFA president

Sept 8, 9:17 AM

Sepp Blatter has no intention of stepping aside just yet.

To the chagrin of many, the beleaguered FIFA president confirmed Monday that he will indeed seek re-election for a fifth term as football's top executive.

Blatter, 78, has previously hinted at such a decision, but had always stopped short of a full confirmation. However, with the recent announcement that UEFA president Michel Platini would not challenge him in next year's election, instead focusing on retaining his own role, Blatter's announcement comes as little surprise.

"I will make an official declaration definitely in September now when we have the executive committee," he said Monday in a pre-recorded interview shown at the SoccerEx conference in Manchester. "I will inform the executive committee. It's a question of respect also to say then to the football family, 'Yes I will be ready. I will be a candidate.'"

First elected in 1998, the Swiss administrator has faced little competition for the position in recent years, being re-elected unopposed in 2011 after (now disgraced) executive Mohamed bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy.

Despite being mired in corruption scandals - which caused Blatter to initially claim that this term, his fourth, would be his last - he seems to have retained the support of many national federations.

While his presence at stadiums throughout the world is often the source of ridicule from the supporters in attendance, the sentiment from national associations seems to be far more positive.

"A mission is never finished, and my mission is not finished," Blatter said. "I got [from] the last congress in Sao Paulo not only the impression but the support of the majority, a huge majority of national associations asking 'Please go on, be our president also in future.'"

The election is scheduled to take place on May 29 in Zurich, with former FIFA international relations director Jérôme Champagne as the only person standing between Blatter and a fifth term as football's most powerful person.

The Frenchman, 56, confirmed his intention to challenge for the position earlier this year, but it is widely expected that Blatter will retain the role.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters

Aug 28, 8:56 AM

Platini says he will not challenge Blatter for FIFA presidency

Aug 28, 8:56 AM

Michel Platini announced Thursday he will run for re-election as UEFA president rather than challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency.

"This is the decision I have made. It is about what I want to do with UEFA," Platini told Press Association Sport.

The decision was applauded by European FIFA executive committee member Michel D'Hooghe, who said "it means that this time there will be no battle between FIFA and UEFA."

Many expected Platini to stand against Blatter after his comments in June suggesting "FIFA needs a breath of fresh air," but any challenge would have involved Platini relinquishing his UEFA presidency in March.

Europe is the only one of FIFA's six continental bodies not to announce support for Blatter standing another term as president.

Feature photo courtesy of Action Images/Paul Childs

June 12, 8:48 AM

UEFA head Platini says he will no longer support FIFA president Blatter

June 12, 8:48 AM

On the morning of the first match of the World Cup, the last thing organizers want stealing the spotlight is football bureaucracy. Nonetheless, that's where we find ourselves this morning after UEFA president Michel Platini said he would no longer support his FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter ahead of next year's election.

"I am supporting him no longer, it's finished," said Platini. "He knows it, I told him. I think FIFA needs a breath of fresh air."

The statement is hardly surprising in terms of the collective sentiment of UEFA, whose members have seemingly taken turns speaking out against the 78-year-old FIFA leader this week. However, this is the first time Platini has voiced his long-suspected feelings, and even went so far as to give some life to the notion that he might contest the FIFA presidential election himself. 

Blatter, who has dodged blame for the controversy surrounding the 2022 Qatar World Cup bid, declared to the FIFA Congress on Wednesday that he was ready for a new mandate despite promising in 2011 that he would not seek a fifth term. The current president spent the week speaking with confederation leaders to gain their support and boost his re-election campaign, while leaders from both the Dutch FA and English FA publicly asked him to keep his promise to step down.

While speaking out against Blatter may be the current cause de rigueur, stepping up to contest him in an election would be a different task altogether, as his support from the confederations outside UEFA is almost unanimous. It would take the efforts of someone with Platini's stature to oust Blatter, but it would be far from a certainty for the UEFA president, who has a lot to lose if he doesn't win the election.

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/FABRICE COFFRINI

June 11, 9:15 PM

Blatter coy on FIFA presidential re-election bid

June 11, 9:15 PM

SAO PAULO (AP) While there's hardly any doubt, FIFA President Sepp Blatter won't declare himself a candidate for re-election just yet.

He did reveal on Wednesday, though, how deeply hurt he was by hearing that European countries no longer want him in the role.

Blatter passed up a chance to formally announce his re-election plans for a fifth term bid in 2015 when he addressed his 209 member nations at their annual congress ahead of the World Cup.

What he did show at a later news conference was raw emotions about UEFA officials making a face-to-face demand in a closed-door meeting Tuesday that he step aside next year.

''That was the most disrespectful thing I have experienced in my entire life,'' Blatter said in German, ''on the football pitch and in my home.''

FIFA's media chief cut short his boss's response as Blatter seemed ready to unload further on the only football continent that refuses to publicly support the 78-year-old Swiss official's expected candidacy in the election next May.

Blatter's outburst was more surprising after an all-day congress meeting seemed to go entirely to his plan.

Members tossed out proposals on age and term limits for Blatter and others; FIFA cheered the hall by promising $200 million in bonus payment from World Cup profits; and Blatter unveiled a new idea, a review system for team managers to challenge referees' decisions.

The challenge was Blatter's closing remarks after a long day that he was expected to end with a call to support his candidacy.

He did hint at his intentions to run again for the job he's held since 1998.

''I am ready to accompany you in the future,'' Blatter told delegates, ''but it's your decision, congress, if you want to go with me.''

''The candidate period is not yet open so no one can be a candidate,'' Blatter told reporters. ''My mission is not yet finished so ask me next year.''

The hostile UEFA meeting on Tuesday - the final stop on Blatter's six-visit tour of his continental confederations ahead of the congress - was a rare down note for him.

Senior UEFA officials had urged Blatter to take responsibility for FIFA corruption allegations and negative headlines for football under his leadership. They also objected to Blatter suggesting that racism was a factor in English media reporting that Qatar corruptly won the 2022 World Cup hosting rights.

UEFA board member Michael van Praag of the Netherlands said he told Blatter he liked him as a friend but that ''people tend not to take you seriously anymore.''

On a day when Blatter said from the stage that the game could spread to other planets - ''Then we'll have an Interplanetary Cup'' - he was being taken very seriously indeed by loyal delegates from outside Europe.

Blatter's campaign message that age limits were a form of discrimination led to delegates also voting out term limits on principle. A key reform recommended by FIFA's anti-corruption advisors therefore fell.

There is little will outside Europe for change partly because the booming World Cup continues to reap dividends.

FIFA's finance director announced bonuses of $750,000 for each member country and $7 million for each confederation. The same for tiny 11-nation Oceania as wealthy 54-member UEFA.

Blatter only hinted at divisions with UEFA, led by his former sports politics protege Michel Platini, the former France great whose mentor refuses to leave the stage.

''It's impossible to make everybody happy,'' Blatter said in an opening speech. ''So express yourself and say, `Well, what do you think could be better?' We are here to answer all the questions.''

At his later news conference, Blatter was evasive with several replies to English media.

When one questioner displeased him, the multilingual president chose to respond in French while declining to address the detail.

By this time, his preferred audience of football family members had long left the venue.

''I personally am in a very positive mood,'' Blatter had told his voters in his closing address, one hour before the opposite was true.

The next time FIFA members see him in this setting, on May 29, 2015 in Zurich, they will probably be deciding whether to keep him in office until 2019. His opponent that day could well be Van Praag.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters

June 10, 9:36 AM

Sepp Blatter: Desire to continue working as FIFA president 'burns stronger than ever'

June 10, 9:36 AM

SAO PAULO - Sepp Blatter has told CONCACAF football leaders that his desire to be FIFA president ''burns stronger than ever.''

The FIFA leader says ''I am at your disposal'' to be a candidate in an election next May.

Blatter has been asking FIFA members in a tour of six confederation meetings to support him at the end of their annual congresses on Wednesday.

Addressing delegates from North and Central America and the Caribbean, Blatter says ''my mission, our mission together is not yet finished.''

Blatter adds: ''I'll be honest with you it still burns, it still burns stronger than ever to go forwards.''

Blatter was due to address members of Oceania and UEFA later Tuesday.

Europe's UEFA is the one confederation preparing to oppose Blatter's wish for a fifth term.

May 30, 10:39 AM

Jerome Champagne vows to run against Sepp Blatter for FIFA presidency

May 30, 10:39 AM

PARIS - The only declared candidate for the FIFA presidency says he won't step aside if Sepp Blatter confirms before the World Cup that he's seeking a fifth term.

In an interview with The Associated Press, former FIFA executive Jerome Champagne said trying to unseat Blatter is not a lost cause. Blatter is in his 16th year as FIFA president and 39th year with the soccer governing body. There's been no indication of widespread eagerness for change from FIFA's 209 member federations, which have benefited from billions of World Cup dollars.

''An election is an election,'' said Champagne, a former French diplomat and current soccer consultant. ''Don't ask me to tell you now what will be the end result. I leave that to the pundits and I leave that to the journalists. But it's not a problem. You know we have seen a lot of underdogs and outsiders also sometimes winning.''

In 2011, Blatter was re-elected as the only candidate for another four-year term with 186 of 203 votes. He is expected to confirm his re-election plans on June 11 at FIFA's annual assembly in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on the eve of the World Cup. Champagne said that won't cause him to bow out of the May 2015 ballot. Blatter will be 79; Champagne will be 56.

''I will continue defending my ideas. I'm not stopping, because we need a debate,'' Champagne said. ''In a democratic system we need more than one candidate, and I hope more than two candidates because we need different points of views and we need two different options given to the voters.''

''If in the future there is other candidate(s) than me - so far I'm the only one - I will welcome that.''

UEFA president Michel Platini has also been talked about as another potential challenger to Blatter. Platini has said he will consult UEFA's 54 members later this year before announcing his intentions. But his predecessor, UEFA honorary president Lennart Johansson, said this month he thinks it unlikely that Platini will run this time.

Some of Champagne's proposals for soccer differ notably from positions staked out by Blatter. Champagne wants referees to be able to use video replays in offside and penalty decisions. Blatter doesn't advocate video refereeing and only belatedly converted to the use of goal-line technology, which will be used in Brazil for the first time at a World Cup.

Champagne argues that the economics of soccer are becoming unbalanced, with too much money going to too few elite clubs, making the sport less competitive and compelling. He also says FIFA must act and reform to restore its reputation, damaged by repeated bribery scandals and widespread doubts about the integrity of awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

''A lot of things which have been said (are) not correct and unfair. But as we say in the English world: perception is reality. And we have to tackle this issue,'' Champagne said. A presidential campaign with open debate, he said, ''will be a step in reconciling FIFA with the people of football.''

He said one reason he's campaigning is because ''it hurt me many times when I saw FIFA painted negatively'' and because he hasn't been tarnished by scandal himself. He said he is funding his own campaign and has the minimum five endorsements from FIFA member federations needed to run.

''I've no allegations on me. I call upon all the journalists to investigate my past,'' he said.

Champagne said he is ''proud'' of the 11 years he worked under the FIFA president from 1999 to 2010, when he was forced out under pressure from Blatter's executive committee. Champagne also stated: ''Mr. Blatter is not corrupt.''

''It's not a fight about persons, it's about ideas, visions, programs and people of football will decide,'' he said. ''We need a debate, we need a healthy debate. We don't need a confrontational debate.''

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters

May 23, 12:08 AM

Eric Cantona compares Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini to plague, cholera

May 23, 12:08 AM

With complete disregard for his inability to put a lid on corruption within the football world, Sepp Blatter recently announced his intention to seek a fifth term as FIFA president.

Assuming Blatter follows through on the plan, his main - and perhaps only - legitimate opponent will be UEFA president Michel Platini, who has yet to officially declare his candidacy for the position.

But according to French legend Eric Cantona, who is never hesitant to let his feelings be known to the media, choosing between Blatter and Platini will be like choosing between two of the world's most devastating diseases.

Per Squawka:

It's politics when you get to that level. Platini was a great player, he's a great man of football, but today he's a politician, just like the rest.

On the other hand, it would be a good thing that as they are all politicians. A former player could be elected head of FIFA. When you have to choose between the plague and cholera, it's best to get it from the doctor.

It's about settling scores, a political war. Platini wants to be FIFA president, Blatter wants to remain it. Blatter has started to say, 'Qatar, it's true it was a bad idea, but it was Platini's idea.

Some people criticize the World Cup in Qatar, others the World Cup in Brazil. It's also Platini who gave the Under-21 European Championships to Israel, which is just as disrespectful in terms of human rights as giving the World Cup to Qatar, given Israel's policy.

He also gave the Euros to Ukraine, which was not an example of democracy.

So... the plague or cholera? Which would you rather have running FIFA?

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Peter Cziborra

May 9, 1:31 PM

Sepp Blatter will seek 5th term as FIFA president

May 9, 1:31 PM

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has no plans of handing over the reins as soccer's foremost authority.

The Swiss supremo said Friday that he will ask FIFA's 209 members for their support to seek a fifth term as president of the sport's governing body.

Per FOX Soccer, when asked about his potential candidacy, Blatter said, "Yes, I would like to do it."

Short. Sweet. To the point. (Quite the opposite of so many FIFA-related announcements that he has overseen throughout the years).

Blatter, who has been the game's top executive since 1998, said in 2011 that his current four-year term would be his last, but has dropped countless hints since then that he would renege on that stance.

He will turn 79 when the next election is held in May of 2015.

The oft-criticized president said that there is still much for him to accomplish in his current role.

"I want to do this, because things aren't over yet. My mandate is running out, but my mission is not finished," he told Swiss newspaper Blick (via The Sydney Morning Herald).

The only other candidate to have formally announced his intention to run is Jerome Champagne, the former FIFA secretary general who left the organization back in 2010.

However, the Frenchman has stated that he will remove himself from the race should his former boss throw his name in the ring.

Current UEFA president Michel Platini is seen by many as the only legitimate candidate that can dethrone the long-serving Blatter, but the former superstar midfielder has not yet announced if he will enter the running for the FIFA job.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

Feb 7, 2:42 PM

Sepp Blatter says he may run for FIFA presidency again in 2015

Feb 7, 2:42 PM

Oft-criticized FIFA president Sepp Blatter said after being re-elected in 2011 that this would be his final term as the leader of football's governing body.

It was a decision that made many people very, very happy.

Hint: Google search 'Sepp Blatter is...' and sit back and enjoy the results.

Well, it seems the 77-year-old has experienced a change of heart. 

When asked Friday if he would consider reversing his earlier decision to step down and choose not to run for re-election in 2015, Blatter was quoted by the BBC as saying the following:

"I am in good health. I don't see why now I should think to stop work," he told Swiss radio station RTS.

"If the member associations asked me to be a candidate, I would not say no."

Blatter has been at the helm of FIFA since 1998, and has endured more than his fair share of controversy -- all of which have been self-imposed, of course.

At the moment, only Jerome Champagne, a former aide to the Swiss administrator, has declared his intention to run in 2015. However, he recently conceded that he would step aside should Blatter throw his hat in the ring.