David Ginola has stepped up to the plate to help promote a new tradition: Semi-randos running for FIFA presidency. It’s a huge sign of progress for soccer, given the wide array of unqualified fame-seekers we see running for similar, albeit far more important positions in the political realm (I’m looking at you, Rick Santorum). If grossly inadequate candidates can seek the Presidency of the United States, surely there’s nothing wrong with Ginola running for a piddly soccer thing.
The former French international, who spent much of his club career with Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham, said he will oppose Sepp Blatter in this year’s FIFA presidential elections, taking a brave stand against soccer’s reigning overlord. Well, perhaps the stance isn’t so brave. For one, Ginola’s being paid to do this, and although he denied the 250,000 pounds he’s getting from an English betting syndicate is motivating his stance, it’s a curious coincidence. It’s not like Ginola declared himself a candidate and then picked up the support.
Besides, it looks like our favorite winger-turned-thespian may stand to make slightly more than a quarter-million quid:
The other curiosity here: There are already other candidates. French diplomat Jerome Champagne has made it clear for some time that he intends to opposed Blatter, while Jordan’s Prince Ali Al Hussein recently declared his intention to run. If Blatter is going to be dethroned, it’s likely going to be on an anti-Blatter platform. Ginola might do just as well as either of the current candidates (though I feel like I’m bending over backwards to accept this premise), but with, you know, people who can actually get votes already in the race, what’s the point of running? Money aside, of course.
But let’s not forget that new tradition. Last cycle, Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl literally took to the streets in the hope that he would be nominated to opposed Blatter. While the campaign may have raised awareness of FIFA’s problems, it also had faults similar to what we might see from an ambitious populist political platform. Ultimately, Wahl couldn’t garner the support for a nomination.
The campaign did, however, garner some publicity, much in the same way Ginola’s campaign has caught our attention, or pizza kingpin Herman Cain’s campaign crafted a neat celebrity for his part in the last set of Republican primaries. But what’s the end game, exactly? For Cain, was it to sell some books, become a FOX News daring, maybe enjoy his Warholian 15 minutes? All that seems like a good reason to run. Is Ginola just trying to get some more acting jobs? Or just cash a paycheck? Both motives would make sense.
It’s just exciting to see the trajectory of these elections. Wahl in 2011. Ginola in 2015. I’d like Sacha Baron Cohen to come up with something for 2019, or maybe he’d be best for 2023, a year after the World Cup in Qatar. Sure, it’d be far more absurd than Wahl or Ginola, but if the candidate’s not going to be nominated, regardless, we might as well judge this in entertainment value.
Soccer’s political side is just now showing its potential. It’s a sign of progress — a true hint we’re ready for our leisure time activities to become absurdly serious. If Ginola has any kind of staying power, we might be able to get some true B-list celebrities to throw their names in come 2019. Borat may be the dream, but maybe Johnny Knoxville could be our reality.