Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 10 No. 23

International Football

Former senior FIFA exec Jérôme Champagne "has issued a passionate call for a wide-ranging debate over the future of the game before the governing body's next presidential election" in '15, warning that a "coronation" for any candidate "could be disastrous for football," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Champagne said, "The 2015 election will be a very, very, very important moment because that election will determine football until 2025 or 2030. I don't know when I will decide. It's not the moment, because we need to know what is going to happen. We need a debate. For the moment I can't answer the question. I don't rule out anything, but I have not decided yes or no. 2015 will be a decisive moment, for me it's clear." Blatter had previously said that "his fourth term would be his last but the Swiss looks increasingly likely to stand again." UEFA President Michel Platini, meanwhile, was long considered Blatter's natural successor but "appears beleaguered by a string of problems." Champagne said that it was too early to decide whether to stand himself but, having advised football associations in trouble spots from Palestine to Kosovo to Northern Cyprus in the past two years, "was confident he would meet the necessary criteria" (GUARDIAN, 11/12). In London, Gibson wrote on the GUARDIAN's Talking Sport blog Platini, "once seen by many as a white knight" who could rehabilitate FIFA's image in the eyes of the world, "is becoming increasingly compromised." Blatter, "faced with the reality of leaving a job that has become indivisible from the man" and a $1M-plus salary, has had second thoughts. Only "entreaties from his daughter not to carry on for another four years are making him hesitate." Champagne "may on the face of it appear an odd choice as a reforming candidate." But he is in the rare position of having worked inside FIFA for more than a decade "while retaining clean hands and a good reputation." He has a keen sense of football's power for good as well as the capacity of a handful of senior FIFA figures "to besmirch its reputation." Champagne remains loyal to Blatter, insisting the Swiss is not corrupt but has been forced to "sup with the devil" owing to the way FIFA is structured. Champagne: "The longer you are there the more you make. Sometimes you have to sup with the devil with a long spoon. That's why we need to reform the ex-co [executive committee] to make it more democratic, to make it more representative of the FAs" (GUARDIAN, 11/12).

CAN'T GET OUT: REUTERS' Tony Goodson wrote Blatter has been asked to intervene in the case of French footballer Zahir Belounis, who said that "he is being prevented from leaving Qatar in a contractual dispute with a local club." Int'l players union FIFPro has written to Blatter saying that it remains "deeply concerned about Belounis' precarious situation" and calling for action. It said that Belounis, 33, "is stranded in Qatar, with his wife and two daughters, and being denied an exit visa until he agrees to drop a legal case against his former club, Al-Jaish, over his claim of almost two years unpaid wages" (REUTERS, 11/13). FIFA will use a Swiss lab to test players at next year’s World Cup in Brazil for doping violations "after a Rio de Janeiro medical facility failed to regain World Anti-Doping Agency accreditation." In a statement, FIFA said the players' blood and urine samples will be flown to a WADA-approved laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, because the Rio center "would not be able to achieve re-accreditation in time for the World Cup" (BLOOMBERG, 11/12).

The Professional Footballers' Association plans to send proposals to UEFA "calling for European teams to use at least three 'homegrown' players in starting XIs," according to Alistair Magowan of the BBC. The union will discuss the issue at its annual general meeting on Wednesday amid concerns BT Sport's record £897M ($1.4B) European TV deal "could increase pressure on managers to use ready-made players rather than youngsters." European Union laws "have prevented previous attempts to introduce quota systems." The PFA hopes a Europe-wide plan for the inclusion of three players educated by the club for three seasons between the ages of 16 and 21, and regardless of nationality, "would avoid potential legal problems" (BBC, 11/12).

Twenty-six players and one official "have had their Italian match-fixing bans extended worldwide." FIFA said that 23 of the players were Italian along with one from Belgium, Belarus and Croatia. The suspensions, ranging from two months to four years, "stem from two separate investigations, one in Bari and one in Cremona" (REUTERS, 11/13). ... FIFA "launched the 16th Football for Hope Centre in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg on Tuesday." South Africa FA President Danny Jordaan asked FIFA "to consider naming the centre after Leepile Taunyane, who died recently -- a long-time resident of Alexandra and loyal servant of the game" (SAPA, 11/13). ... Brazilian footballers "will take action at this week's domestic league matches to demand fewer games, a longer pre-season and a greater say in decisions" (REUTERS, 11/13). ... Spain’s players "are reportedly resolute to not be photographed with Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang during their visit to the country." AS reported that the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has communicated to its Equatoguinean counterparts that the Spanish squad "will not be attending a reception with Obiang and that they will not be available for any photo opportunities that may be used politically" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 11/13).