Champagne to run against FIFA president Blatter

The Frenchman, FIFA’s former director of international relations, announced in January that he intended to run for the presidency – the most powerful job in football – but then confused many observers with his comments regarding Blatter.

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At his launch news conference, Champagne had declared he did not believe he could beat Blatter and that he was undecided about whether he would even run if his former boss was a candidate.

Blatter, 78, announced last week that he would seek a fifth term and, with UEFA president Michel Platini having decided against challenging him, the prospect of the Swiss being unopposed looked likely.

Champagne did not mention Blatter by name in his statement but the 56-year-old said it was important to have a debate over the future of the game.

“I am happy that the debate about the future of FIFA and football has finally begun with the prospect of various candidates,” he said, adding that he would like all candidates to take part in public and televised debates across the world.

“First and foremost, debating about issues is a normal process in an institution based on democratic principles.

“Then, this debate is particularly indispensable for football,” he added.

“We have to take clear and informed decisions on whether we want to continue with the current economic polarization, and the sporting imbalances it brings in its wake, or be willing to rebalance the game in our globalised 21st century.”

FIFA’s Deputy Secretary General between 2002 and 2005, Champagne worked on special projects between 2005 and 2007 and was Director of International Relations from 2007 until he left FIFA in 2010 after political infighting cost him his position.

A former diplomat, since 2010 Champagne has worked as an independent international football consultant focusing on resolving issues in Kosovo, Palestine and Israel and Cyprus.

In 2012 he issued a 26-page 20,000 word document entitled “What FIFA for the 21st Century?” outlying his ideas for reform.

He is married with three children, lives in Zurich and supports French club St Etienne.

(Reporting By Simon Evans, editing by Alan Baldwin)