Good news for headline writers and fans of obvious puns, as Champagne’s campaign has lost its sparkle and gone flat, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. That’s Champagne as in Jérôme, the Frenchman standing against Sepp Blatter in the FIFA presidential election. Until today, when he withdrew, citing a lack of support.
Which is, in a sense, surprising – Champagne is a one-time FIFA deputy general secretary, so he knows FIFA inside-out and must have a few connections; unlike, say, his compatriot David Ginola, to pluck a name at random. (Hey, the company that sponsored his bid did!) But he was unable to secure the paltry minimum five nominations from national associations required to enter the race, and his blistering withdrawal letter gives some clue as to why.
As Champagne tells it, he was done in by UEFA, which mobilized to support other candidates because the European governing body sees them as potential puppets it would be able to manipulate. The overall goal — one that shines light on the devious, self-interested politicking and backstabbing that goes on in soccer’s corridors of power — would be weakening FIFA and making UEFA more powerful.
The following paragraphs should be read while listening to the theme from House of Cards. Go ahead and click play, above. It really enhances unscrupulous feel.
“The institutions have mobilized to eliminate the only independent candidate,” Champagne said.
“The latest events orchestrated in secret with barely veiled intentions by one of them, distributing letters of support between candidates, made me lose sponsorships especially in Europe!
“The hidden agenda – or not so hidden after all – is clear: under the guise of reforming FIFA lies the objective of further weakening it in favor of continental structures. This at a time when a strong governance of football, with regulatory and redistributive powers, is needed more than ever. It constitutes the perennial vision of UEFA since 1998!
“It is also to pave the road for the wealthy actors of the west European football to get their hands on the last thing they do not control yet: FIFA and the world government of football.”
Surely, this will all end well. When have the political maneuverings of Europe’s soccer elite done us wrong.