Inside lines: Champagne on ice as bid to depose Sepp Blatter starts to sparkle


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The Independent Football

Corks will be popping at the Football Association’s Wembley HQ following the acquisition of the final stages of Euro 2020 at the national stadium. More magnums of bubbly are on ice for a possible further celebration next May should the aptly-named Jerome Champagne unseat the FA’s bête noire Sepp Blatter, as Fifa president.

For the 56-year-old former French diplomat who will stand against slippery Sepp is an Anglophile and under his stewardship Fifa would be more disposed towards England’s football interests.

Champagne says he is ready to work ‘hand in hand’ with the English FA, and that he is ‘desperate’ to reconcile them with Fifa after spats over corruption allegations. The FA will be among those supporting Champagne in a bid that is gathering momentum despite Blatter’s conviction that, at 78, he can cling to power for yet another term.

Unlike former SNP leader Alex Salmond, Blatter won’t acknowledge that the organisation he has headed since 1998 would benefit from new leadership. However soundings among Fifa suggest his confidence may be misplaced.

There seems growing support for change, especially from Europe, America, Australia and Asia, and Champagne has the required backing of five member associations. He was Fifa’s deputy secretary general and director of international relations until 2010, subsequently working as an international football consultant.

“The next 10 years will be crucial for football and particularly for Fifa, which is at a crossroads and in need of sweeping changes,” says the man who, among other things, has been a commissioner for the World Festival of Black Arts.

He is well equipped to sort out the very black arts of Fifa.