FIFA presidential candidate Champagne: Qatar should NOT have World Cup (and don't hand it to Australia)

The only person who has so far announced they will stand for FIFA President at the election due in 2015, Jérôme Champagne, believes the World Cup should not go to Qatar.

The only person who has so far announced they will stand for FIFA President at the election due in 2015, Jérôme Champagne, believes the World Cup should not go to Qatar.

While he gives no comment on the allegations of poor management and corruption under incumbent Sepp Blatter's 16-year term as President, Champagne says there is too much that is "unacceptable" about the tiny nation as host of the single biggest sporting event in the world.

"You can't hold a World Cup in 45 degree heat," he tells Bonita Mersiades at sportsbusinessinsider.com.au

"To move it, will have an impact on three seasons – before and after – and will distort competitions around the world."

While Champagne is quick to acknowledge that Qatar is innocent until proven guilty he also says that other factors are not acceptable.

"The situation of workers there is not right. The heat is not right – for players or fans. You cannot say the World Cup is a 'celebration of humanity' and then give Qatar the World Cup."

Champagne says that if the investigations currently underway by FIFA's independent Ethics chief, Michael J Garcia, result in a re-vote, there are a number of options to pursue.

"It could be that there is a re-vote involving all bidders; or the other four for 2022 [Australia, Japan, Korea, USA]; that it goes to the 'Silver Medallist' [USA]; or that it is completely opened-up again."

But he dismisses Australia's chances saying that it also made mistakes.

He points to a dinner in Sydney in May 2008 hosted by the Australian Football President at the time of the FIFA Congress, at which "lavish gifts" were given.

"From that point on, Australia was thought to be like any other bidding country to be abused because they would give all sorts of gifts."

He also says that Australia was mistaken to believe that its trio of international consultants would deliver them the World Cup.

Champagne, who is a former French diplomat and senior FIFA executive, also believes FIFA should distribute the funding in the sport differently.

"Thirty-two clubs in Europe collect 900 million Euros (A$1.3 billion), where others get hardly anything."

He says that the idea floated earlier in the year for a new league involving the top European clubs will only further isolate Europe from the rest of the football world.

"The [big European] clubs are trying to formalise hegemony," he says.

Instead he believes that world football should be putting its focus on China, India, the United States and Indonesia which represent 45% of the world's population.

Champagne believes the manner in which the rest of the FIFA Executive Committee is appointed should be restructured, and draws an analogy between the Executive Committee and democratic governments.

"Governments are elected on a platform and so should the FIFA Executive."

He says this is necessary for there to be a mandate for change, and that it is a governance issue relevant around the football world.

"There needs to be greater transparency, inclusion, better management and modernisation of systems, policies and processes."

But despite the widespread condemnation of governance processes of FIFA under Blatter, Champagne is still reluctant to criticise his former boss.

He says if he wins, he would continue with the positive aspects of Blatter's almost 40 years at FIFA but change both the perception and the reality of the serial allegations of corruption, poor governance and mismanagement that have plagued FIFA in recent decades.

"I also want to be more transparent, be more accountable, bring equity into the game, make right the decisions that have been wrong and focus on the four areas of growth in world football," he says.

 

Read the entire feature interview by Bonita Mersiades at sportsbusinessinsider.com.au

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