Champagne launches bid for FIFA presidency

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LONDON (AFP) – Former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne on Monday launched his bid to succeed Sepp Blatter as president of the organisation that runs the global game.

The 55-year-old Frenchman, who worked closely with Blatter between 2002 and 2005, announced his campaign to become football’s most powerful man at a press conference in central London.

“I’m here to announce and launch my candidacy for the FIFA presidency in the elections in 2015,” he told reporters.

Blatter, 77, is approaching the end of his fourth term in office and is yet to announce whether or not he will stand again in next year’s election in Zurich.

Current UEFA president Michel Platini said late last year that he will announce whether or not he will stand for the post either during or after the World Cup in Brazil, which starts on June 12.

Champagne said he was eager to restore FIFA’s reputation after accusations of corruption in recent years.

“We need a different FIFA: more democratic, more respected, which behaves better and which does more,” he said.

He also played a video message from Brazil legend Pele, who announced his support for Champagne’s candidacy.

A former diplomat, Champagne worked on France’s successful bid for the right to host the 1998 World Cup before joining FIFA as an international advisor.

He helped to organise Blatter’s victorious election campaign in 2002 and later worked as FIFA’s director of international relations before leaving the organisation in 2010.

He has since worked as an independent football consultant, helping Kosovo to gain recognition from FIFA and working on a potential rapprochement between Israel and Palestine.

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