The former deputy general secretary, Jerome Champagne has officially entered the FIFA presidential election race to succeed the embattled, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
He is the fourth official candidate for the election, which is scheduled to take place on February 26 and has already sent his application letter and eight nomination letters to FIFA on Monday night.
Champagne, a French former diplomat, told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of launching his bid for football’s top job on Friday.
Champagne’s detailed document includes some exciting plans to modernise how the plagued governing body is run. They include plans to fight inequality, including cuts to European places at FIFA and the World Cup, and to trial the use of video review to help referees.
Champagne campaigned for the previous election, won in May by his former boss and ally Sepp Blatter, but did not get the required backing of five members to be a candidate.
Monday is set as the deadline for the February emergency election and he now joins Michel Platini, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein and David Nakhid, a former Trinidad and Tobago player, in contention.
In 2010, Platini, campaigned for Champagne’s exit from FIFA and this time, the former is suspended by the FIFA ethics committee and unlikely to be accepted as a candidate. The UEFA president is appealing against Platini’s ban for taking a $2m salary payment nine years after he worked as Blatter’s personal adviser.
Blatter, who is also suspended for paying Platini from FIFA funds in 2011, called the election amid a deepening corruption crisis in June. He announced his planned exit just four days after winning re-election despite FIFA then being subject to American and Swiss criminal investigations of bribery and suspected money-laundering.
Champagne gets a second chance to lead FIFA amidst all of the scandals.
“Voters want someone who knows how FIFA functions – for the good and for the bad,” said Champagne, who was not linked to personal corruption during and since his 11 years working at FIFA. “It’s a unique opportunity to restore FIFA and to continue what has been done correctly in 111 years.”
Champagne proposes current ideas to reform FIFA by suggesting a 12-year limit on all elected positions, quotas to ensure women are represented on all football bodies worldwide and “open and competitive” bidding for all commercial contracts.
He is an admirer of development in poorer football nations, and has long argued against Europe’s concentration of wealth and players from across the world.
He set a target of building 400 artificial turf pitches worldwide within four years, partly funded by spending less of FIFA’s $1bn-plus annual revenue on running costs.
Champagne advocates that the reduction in use of private charter jets could help meet a five percent cost-cutting target.
Up to 10 new FIFA member nations could be accepted, from Caribbean and Pacific islands and Kosovo, where Champagne has advised football officials since leaving FIFA.
He is reported to have also met with Issa Hayatou, the interim FIFA president from Cameroon who can influence most of the 54 African voters.
Champagne said he sent spent “a little less than” 50,000 euros ($55,000) of his own money on the first campaign, and does not yet have major financial backers lined up. He pledged transparency in identifying any that come forward.