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Report - Sport

Ex-exec's book calls for a fairer Fifa

Reuters/Tariq AlAli

A former senior Fifa executive wants reform in the world football body. Jérôme Champagne's Which Fifa for the 21st century? has provoked widespread debate … which is exactly what its author hoped for. In an exclusive exchange, Champagne goes over the details of his blueprint for a fairer world of football.

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“We should have zero tolerance, inside and outside Fifa … and this will not be an easy task.”

When Fifa president Sepp Blatter publicly announced in 2011 his desire to end decades of corruption in football, little did he imagine a detailed response from a man who had been instrumental in keeping him in power during the last decade. Jérôme Champagne spent 11 years advising Blatter on some of the prickliest issues concerning Fifa’s 208 members.

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The former director of international relations was able to end many longstanding disputes. He also instigated policies for small clubs to receive compensation for players they had groomed who then made it in the big leagues. Champagne was not afraid to speak his mind on corruption and the inequalities in the game.

But two years ago that came to an abrupt end. The Frenchman was more or less forced out because it seems he was treading on too many toes in the upper echelons.

Now the 53-year-old has broken his silence.

In January, Champagne sent a 25-page document to each one of the Fifa members outlining his vision on how to improve Fifa.

At its core are 11 proposals for reform which he says will lead to the Swiss-based organisation becoming more democratic. The Copenhagen-based NGO Play the Game summed up Champagne ’s suggestions with the following list:

  • Revive the democratic debate within football pyramid;
  • Increase even more development programmes with new solidarity mechanisms;
  • Involve leagues, clubs and players in the decision-making process;
  • Restore the role and the centrality of the FAs while clarifying the relations with the confederations;
  • Adjust Fifa to the evolutions of today’s world to reflect them better;
  • Reshuffle the power responsibilities between the Fifa President, the executive committee and the associations;
  • Strengthen Fifa’s governance structures;
  • Reform Fifa’s administration;
  • Modify the insulation of refereeing debates;
  • Define and implement a more comprehensive notion of autonomy;
  • Reconnect Fifa with the “people of football”.

Champagne’s book, Which Fifa for the 21st century?, comes out just before Fifa opens a hotline for whistleblowers in an attempt to clean up the game. The deal offers temporary amnesty for players who admit to fixing and give evidence against a scourge that is ravaging the world of football.

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