Presidential rivals Champagne, Infantino clash over FIFA finances

Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:42pm EST
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne has criticized the plans of rival Gianni Infantino as financially "dangerous" for global soccer's beleaguered ruling body.

Infantino's campaign organizers said in response his proposals were feasible and could be achieved by savings in FIFA and possibly an increase in revenue.

In a letter to FIFA's 209 member national associations (FAs), who each hold one vote in the election, Champagne suggested on Saturday that Infantino's plans could add an extra $900 million to FIFA's expenditure over the next four years.

FIFA is engulfed by a graft scandal that has led to the indictment of several dozen leading soccer officials in the United States, and is under enormous pressure to reform.

Frenchman Champagne and the Swiss Infantino are among five candidates standing to replace outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter, himself banned for eight years for ethics violations, in Friday's election.

Infantino, the general secretary of European soccer's governing body UEFA since 2009, has promised to distribute 5 million dollars every four years to each FA for soccer development, plus $40 million to each of the six continental confederations over the same period.

In the published on Saturday letter, Champagne said that Infantino had made "tempting proposals on paper, which in reality are very dangerous".

He said FIFA's budget for the 2015-18 cycle, which was approved by the FIFA Congress in 2014, predicted an estimated income of 5 billion dollars over the four years.   Continued...

FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne of France speaks during a news conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, January 27, 2016.   REUTERS/Francois Lenoir