FIFA Advisor Jerome Champagne Says Overhaul Needed To Stop Talent Drain
FIFA Presidential Advisor Jerome Champagne said that football has reached the point where it must "choose between becoming an elitist sport, dominated by a handful of rich clubs and leagues, or a universal one," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. Champagne said that the sport "needed a radical overhaul to help it stop the drain of talent to a few rich European clubs and to help it flourish worldwide." The former diplomat said that even once powerful clubs such as Portugal's Sporting have become "suppliers of players" for the major European leagues while fans in many countries follow England's Premier League more closely than their own championship. Champagne: "We tend to misrepresent the game by thinking the game is about the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. In reality, it is about players whose salaries are not paid and clubs who are on the verge of bankruptcy." Champagne said that FIFA could "potentially play a role" in leveling the playing field. However, focus on FIFA recently has been on the corruption scandals which had "engulfed the governing body." He said, "Scandals have always existed in football. We should re-focus on the wider issue which is which kind of football do we want for the 21st century, elitist or universal? Some of these scandals have been diverting attention of the good things FIFA is doing" (REUTERS, 3/21).