January 16, 2015 / 12:42 PM / 4 years ago

Style, charm but little substance to Ginola's FIFA campaign

LONDON (Reuters) - While Michel Platini made the leap from pitch to high office another famous ex-France player, David Ginola, is unlikely to complete the same journey after launching an improbable campaign to unseat FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Friday.

Former footballer David Ginola from France speaks at a press conference where he announced his campaign to stand for the FIFA presidency in London, January 16, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Platini, who has been president of European soccer’s governing body UEFA since 2007, decided last year not to run against Blatter in this year’s FIFA elections in May — partly because he thinks Blatter is unbeatable.

But Ginola, paid 250,000 pounds ($380,000) to stand by a bookmaking firm, appears undaunted, even if his bid has already been widely dismissed as a publicity stunt that has no chance of even gaining the five nominations needed for him to enter the race officially.

At Friday’s London launch, Ginola appeared desperately ill-prepared to answer questions from skeptical reporters on his knowledge of several key issues he would need to fully understand if he ever assumed the role of the head of world soccer’s governing body.

Ginola, one of the most aesthetically pleasing footballers of his generation when he glided down the wing for Paris St Germain, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and France in his pomp in the 1990s, has lost none of his Gallic good looks and charm more than a decade on from his retirement as a player.

Looking at a video of his career highlights before launching his campaign he quipped “I was worth it then”, a reference to the advertising slogan for the hair shampoo company he used to promote.

When he played at his peak there was always something of the romantic charmer about his game, and while his performance on Friday was full of charm and idealism there was little substance on how he would implement the changes he wants to see in the world game.

He brushed off questions about the International Football Association Board (IFAB), Third Party Ownership (TPO) and was unable to name any members of the FIFA Executive Committee, instead speaking about bringing trust back to soccer and getting fans around the world involved in his campaign.

Asked if being a former player would give his campaign more credibility, among the fans at least, Ginola replied: “Michel Platini is the prime example of an ex-footballer who is now in charge.

“He did great things on the soccer pitch and he has done great things as UEFA president — and for me he has set the target.”

Whether he can reach it, or will even get a chance to try, is another matter entirely.

Reporting by Mike Collett

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