It Seems To Me. . .
Despite earlier promises of retirement, Blatter puts himself back in the race for FIFA president.
By Robert Wagman
(Tuesday, September 23, 2014) -- Sepp Blatter, long-time president of FIFA, has looked carefully at the soccer landscape for the best person to succeed him as the leader of the international game. He finally decided to throw his weight behind the man he considers best for the job -- Sepp Blatter.
Despite promising that this would be his final term when he ran for re-electionfour years ago, Blatter now says his energy and his experience make him the best man to continue as the head of soccer's international governing body. So, he will once again stand for election when the FIFA General Congress convenes next May.
The 77-year-old Blatter has been in charge of FIFA since 1998. The last few years have been particularly rocky, especially with the controversial awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar amid cries of bribery and bought votes. This latest controversy came on the heels of long-held charges of financial misdeeds on Blatter's part and on the parts of a number of high-level officials closely aligned with him.
For a time. it has looked like former French soccer great Michel Platini, now the head of the European soccer federation (UEFA), would be a candidate for the FIFA presidency. Platini, however, has now pulled back from the brink of announcing even though he declared at this summer's World Cup in Brazil that he could no longer support Blatter.
So, it has been looking like Blatter would have a clear run for re-election, but now another Frenchman has thrown his hat into the ring, one who, in the past, has had close ties to Blatter.
Former senior FIFA executive Jerome Champagne confirmed last week that he would oppose Blatter. The 56-year-old was at the heart of FIFA leadership and worked closely with Blatter between 2002 and 2005 when he was the organization's deputy secretary-general.
Champagne said he has sent a letter to FIFA headquarters in Switzerland that he is a candidate.
Champagne, a former diplomat, became active in world soccer politics when he worked on France's successful bid to host the 1998 World Cup. He then joined FIFA as an international advisor before serving as deputy secretary-general. Since leaving FIFA in 2010, he has advised various soccer federations and was the commissioner for the World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal.
"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," Champagne said in a letter to various football federations, a copy of which was posted on his web site .
In declaring his candidacy, Champagne said "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.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 globalized 21st century."
"FIFA is in need of sweeping changes that must take it further than what has been accomplished to date."
Champagne is calling on FIFA to become more democratic and more "inclusive and receptive to its member organizations."
He is also proposed public and televised debates to be held between all the candidates. Most observers there is little chance of this happening.
Quite a bit might happen in the months between now and the May world congress. Others might jump into the race. Then, there remains the festering ethics investigation into the bidding surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
A year-long investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the votes won by Russia (for the 2018 Cup) and Qatar in December 2010, headed by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, has been delivered to Blatter by New York attorney Michael Garcia. The 360-page report, backed up by several thousand pages of documents, was sent at the beginning of October.
Blatter has now said it will take at least "several months" to go through and digest the contents of the massive report and then he has not decided whether he will make the report public.