Sunday, January 19, 2014

FIFA Presidency 2015: The Campaign Begins

The campaign for the presidency of FIFA is off to an early start, with the election not until 2015. James Montague reports for the New York Times:
Jérôme Champagne has spent most of his career in soccer behind the scenes, quietly operating in the shadows with little fanfare or credit. But on Monday, Champagne, a Frenchman who once served as FIFA’s deputy general secretary, is set to become front-page news in Switzerland and beyond.

At a news conference in London, Champagne plans to announce his candidacy for the presidency of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. That would be the first open challenge to FIFA’s longtime president, Sepp Blatter. Champagne also will unveil several initiatives that he contends would boldly reshape and democratize soccer’s governing body.

“I won’t say that if I am elected, I would not face any hurdles; I would face a lot of hurdles,” Champagne said of the intense spotlight that comes with the job, and sometimes merely the pursuit of it.

“But it is a privilege to run for president,” he added. “It is not a job. It is a mission.”
You can see Champagne speaking on the future of FIFA in the video above (from the 2013 EASM conference in Aalborg, he is the first speaker after the introductions).

Late in 2011 Champagne released a manifesto for FIFA reform which foreshadowed his announcement. The 25-page document can be found at Play the Game, here in PDF.
Interestingly, in 2013 FIFA modified its statutes to make it extremely difficult for candidates to run for president. The image above shows the changes that were made (source: here in PDF). Five member associations (of 209) are required to offer support of the candidate, with a requirement to do so in writing. This means that any organization must "out" itself as potentially not being in support of the incumbent, and with FIFA's hostory of patronage, this exposes the members to possible retribution.

As there is no apparent limit on how many candidates a member association can support, it would be a wise move for any member association to express written support for the incumbent to appear on the ballot in addition to any other alternative candidate.

A second requirement is that the candidate come from within the ranks of FIFA (or have been a player). While there is considerable ambiguity as to what it means to have been a "Player," the requirement that the candidate come from within FIFA is essentially a guarantee that the organization will be protected from outside thinking and agents of change.

As FIFA is a big business with deep governance troubles one might think that FIFA would welcome outside experts looking to aid the organization into the future. Not so. If the 2015 election comes down to a contest between Blatter, Platini and Champagne, then FIFA's comical inbreeding will be set to continue.


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