Football: FIFA candidate Champagne facing fight to stay in the race

Football: FIFA candidate Champagne facing fight to stay in the race

LONDON - FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne does not yet have the letters of support he needs from five football associations with the deadline for his nomination to be accepted only 10 days away, the Frenchman said on Monday.

Champagne, the 56-year-old former FIFA deputy secretary general, who opened his campaign in London a year ago this week, has sent an open letter to the heads of FIFA's 209 member associations appealing for their support before the Jan.29 deadline.

"I do not yet have all the five letters," he wrote in a statement headed "The Moment of Truth".

"The feeling exists that the final result of the election is set, and that it would be risky to sign them.

"There is also the fear of being singled out or punished," he says alluding to the idea that most people believe, despite all of the controversies surrounding FIFA, that ageing incumbent Sepp Blatter will win a fifth term of office.

Champagne began his campaign on Jan 20 last year. Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan declared his intention to run earlier this month.

On Friday former France international footballer David Ginola said he was also standing, so - despite his campaign being widely regarded as a publicity stunt backed by a bookmaking firm - as it stands, there are three challengers to Blatter.

Missing letters

Champagne was openly dismissive of Ginola's candidacy, speaking of "individuals without a programme" declaring their interest, and called on associations to provide him support.

"I am thus compelled today to solemnly call upon you to obtain these missing letters," he wrote.

Champagne said that under the old rules - under which he would have needed the support of only one association - he would already have had enough support, but he is yet to meet the amended requirements established under revised FIFA statutes introduced two years ago.

Champagne makes a robust defence of his campaign so far and says that even if he gets the five letters, that does not commit an FA to vote for him, just to enable him to stand.

"I have opposed the current simplistic analysis, according to which all is wrong in FIFA, by presenting a programme to continue what has been done correctly during the last 40 years and to change what needs to be changed."

He concludes: "A white ballot, an abstention, will not advance the cause of football. It will not accomplish what you have set out to do for your Association, and it will not make FIFA a more respected organisation in the eyes of the world."

The election will be held at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29.


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