FIFA's former director of
international relations Jerome Champagne has suggested changes
in the world governing body to help end a perception it is run
by self-interested men who do not care enough about the game.
The erudite 53-year-old Frenchman, who left FIFA suddenly
two years ago, has now broken his silence since his unexpected
departure from his role as one of president Sepp Blatter's chief
Widely respected and influential in elite football circles,
Champagne circulated a detailed 20,000-word report to each of
FIFA's 208 member associations on Monday.
It examines how many of football's current ills developed; how
FIFA spiralled into recent crises and how it can evolve into a
more effective body. Champagne has made 11 recommendations to
improve the game, including changes at the top.
"I am speaking as a citizen of world football and it has
given me no joy to see the troubles that FIFA has faced over the
last year or so." Champagne told Reuters in a telephone
"But after my 11 years with FIFA I think I have something to
contribute to the debate and to stimulate it, while recognising
that no one has all the answers."
Champagne said the red danger lights were flashing in many
areas and stressed there has been a loss of trust in football.
"Over the last 20 years there has been a globalisation of
football which has been only loosely regulated and which has
dramatically increased the inequalities in the game and
stimulated a decrease in the uncertainty of the game's results."
As is to be expected from a former diplomat, Champagne
retains a balanced view of the world game, and highlights many
positives in his report. The game, he says, is still expanding,
80,000 amateur matches are played each week in Germany for
example, and stadiums have improved.
But he identifies many wrongs, starting at the top where he
said one of the key problems that should be addressed is that
the FIFA president and his executive committee are elected by
different voting procedures which leads to conflict at the heart
of the decision-making process.
He suggests a radical overhaul of the voting procedure with
more power vested in the president's position - something which
could benefit the new president who will succeed Blatter in
"They key issue here is for the president to have an
executive committee who back him, for a president and executive
to share the same vision, so that modernising reforms and other
ideas are implemented and not blocked."
He also proposes increasing the executive committee from 24
seats to 31 with future seats open for direct representation for
the clubs, women and players.
"The world has changed and FIFA must adjust to reflect these
changes better," he said.
"In essence, FIFA's role, defined when it was formed in
1904, is exactly the same 108 years later. It remains the
guardian of world football.
"It was based on the British model of doing things in the
19th century, but considering all the challenges it is facing in
the modern world, new measures are necessary for it to remain
relevant in the 21st century. That is what FIFA is all about,
rather than serving personal ambitions or rivalries between
His 11 recommendations include changes in the relationships
between the grass roots, the professional clubs and national
associations; a split between FIFA's commercial interests and
footballing concerns and making FIFA more democratic as well as
the introduction of technology and embracing states not
currently recognised by FIFA.
He analyses almost every every aspect of the game from
overseas players appearing for foreign clubs to political
interference and refers to the increasingly significant
International Football Assoction Board, the game's ultimate
law-making body which predated FIFA by some 18 years, which he
said "stops some brutal law changes requested by television
channels" but was perceived as not being transparent enough.
Regarding law changes and refereeing in general, Champagne
argues: "It is time to review the public debate on refereeing,
among fans and media alike, and the perception - genuine or
false - that in fact decisions are taken by a very tiny group of
persons without a lot of transparency."
He said the introduction of new technologies, not just to
rule on disputed goals, was inevitable. Examples could be taken
from other sports to see if their laws could help improve the
"We should reflect on the experience tennis and rugby on
their own methods including temporary exclusions (the sin bin),
public explanation of referee's decisions, or rugby's penalty
try for example."
Since leaving FIFA, Champagne has worked, among other
things, as a consultant for Palestine, who are now FIFA members.
Champagne was something of a trouble-shooter during his
years with FIFA, solving complex problems and bringing
long-running disputes to an end. With his obvious expertise it
is not inconceivable he will return to the organisation one day.
Two people who did not have his best interests at heart are
no longer part of FIFA, which could yet facilitate his return.
"Some people attacked me, like Mohammed Bin Hammam and Jack
Warner," Champagne explained. "They are not part of FIFA
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