Champagne out of FIFA presidential race

Mon Feb 2, 2015 4:15am EST
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By Brian Homewood

BERNE (Reuters) - FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne is out of the race after failing to win sufficient backing for his bid, saying that national associations feared "reprisals" if they supported him.

Champagne, needing the backing of five national associations for his bid, said in a statement that he had won the backing of only three.

The Frenchman said he had lost sponsorship after former Portugal forward Luis Figo and Dutch FA president Michael van Praag announced last week they would stand.

Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, a FIFA executive committee member, also announced early last month he was in the race to unseat Sepp Blatter.

"The institutions have mobilized to eliminate the only independent candidate," said Champagne, who has campaigned against what he says is growing inequality in the sport.

"The latest events orchestrated in secret... distributing letters of support between candidates, made me lose sponsorships especially in Europe.

"I also note that I would have been a candidate with the old version of the rules, and that I cannot be one with the new modifications adopted in 2013 on a UEFA proposal."

Blatter, in charge since 1998, is favorite to be re-elected for a fifth mandate in the election on May 29 where each of FIFA's 209 member associations hold one vote.   Continued...

FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne attends the "New FIFA Now" summit at the European Parliament in Brussels January 21, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman