The field of candidates to replace the embattled Sepp Blatter as FIFA’s president is taking shape this week ahead of an Oct. 26 deadline to enter the race. Jerome Champagne, a French ex-diplomat and former close Blatter associate, on Friday became the latest official to announce his candidacy ahead of FIFA’s special presidential election, slated for Feb. 26.
Blatter, who has served as president of international soccer's governing body since the late 1990s, resigned from his post in June after the arrests of nine current and former FIFA executives on corruption charges. Blatter vowed to spearhead FIFA’s attempts at self-reform and then step down when his successor is chosen in February. But FIFA suspended Blatter earlier this month for at least 90 days, shortly after Swiss authorities announced he was the focus of a criminal probe.
Champagne, 57, held several high-level posts during an 11-year career at FIFA during the height of Blatter’s power within the organization. Like the other candidates to replace Blatter, Champagne is running on a platform of reform. His ideas for change include term limits for FIFA executives and increased transparency regarding FIFA’s business dealings, the Associated Press reported.
“At a time when FIFA needs more than ever an open debate about its future, its reform and the reform of football, we are witnessing the first months of the electoral campaign being dominated by controversy and deals made behind closed doors,” Champagne said in a statement, according to the BBC.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 21, 2015
So far, Champagne is one of five executives who have announced their candidacy for FIFA’s presidency. Michel Platini, president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), was the odds-on favorite to replace Blatter until earlier this month, when he was linked to the Swiss probe into Blatter’s activity, which included allegations of criminal mismanagement of FIFA’s business.
Authorities are investigating a $2 million payment Blatter made to Platini in 2011 under vague circumstances. FIFA also suspended Platini for at least 90 days, and it’s unclear if he will be allowed to stand in February’s election. Both Blatter and Platini have denied any wrongdoing.
Here’s a look at Champagne’s competition in FIFA’s upcoming presidential election:
Michel Platini, UEFA president: Platini, a 60-year-old Frenchman, is one of the greatest soccer players of all time. He was considered an early favorite to replace Blatter in next year’s FIFA election, promising to spearhead international soccer’s efforts at internal reform if chosen as Blatter’s successor. But Platini’s candidacy took a major hit this month after Swiss authorities revealed they were investigating Blatter’s $2 million payment to Platini in 2011, nearly a decade after he completed the work for which he was allegedly being paid. After an internal investigation, FIFA opted to suspend Platini.
Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, FIFA vice president: Ali, 39, has overseen FIFA’s initiatives in Asia since 2011. He was the only candidate to stand against Blatter in last May’s FIFA election and was handily defeated. Ali has vowed to restore FIFA’s international reputation and enact meaningful anti-corruption reform if elected.
David Nakhid, former soccer player, Trinidad and Tobago: A former captain of Trinidad and Tobago’s national soccer team, Nakhid, 51, entered the FIFA presidential race earlier this month.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, president of the Asian Football Confederation: Salman, 49, announced his entrance into the FIFA presidential race earlier this month. He is expected to garner a good deal of support in Europe and Asia, which could further weaken Platini’s base of support, the Guardian reported. Multiple officials have called for Salman to be barred from the presidential race due to concerns about his human rights record. Human rights groups in Bahrain have accused him of complicity in the torture of several soccer players in 2011. He has denied any wrongdoing.