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Is Champagne the man to end the Blatter era?

11:43 21 January 2014

Jerome Champagne speaking to the media  in London as he announces his intention to stand for FIFA president in 2015.

Jerome Champagne speaking to the media in London as he announces his intention to stand for FIFA president in 2015.

The clamour for Sepp Blatter to be replaced as the head of Fifa, world football’s governing body, has been growing louder over the years.

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Blatter has been involved in all sorts of controversies, ranging from suggesting women footballers wear shorter shorts to falling embarrassingly short when meting out punishment to certain countries for racist behaviour.

Now Blatter, who has been in charge for 15 years, faces a challenge for his presidency in 2015 in the shape of Jerome Champagne who, at 55, is 22 years the present incumbent’s junior.

Before pointing out a flaw in the Champagne plan (aside from the fact that were he ever in charge, any mistake would inevitably lead to a world-full of headlines about Champagne Charlies) it’s worth actually looking at what he proposes.

Orange cards for referees which would allow refs to send players to sin-bins rather than a full dismissal for certain second yellow card offences. I have to say I have long advocated (and been laughed at for doing so) the use of orange cards, although not necessarily the sin-bin. Better the player stays on the pitch and is dealt with post-match than his muscles stop working for 10 minutes and he comes back on and suffers an injury.

“Look at the scenes of grown men yelling in the faces of referees,” said Champagne. “We are asking these referees in a split-second to take decisions which reverberate everywhere, which will be criticised by us, the fans. Imagine the responsibility of these guys who have major decisions to make.

“I propose that only a captain can talk to the referee, with a 10-yard penalty if this is not adhered to. I propose to create an orange card because sometimes a referee is forced to send off a player for a second yellow, but an orange card and a system of sin-bins would give the referee more choices.”

He has a point.

In the spirit of trying to keep as many people on the playing surface as possible, Champagne suggests an end to the ‘triple punishment’ rule – ie, when a player hauls down an attacker who is just about to score, concedes a penalty and gets sent off.

Champagne also wants to see quotas for foreign players – although how he gets that through the hawkeyes of Europe’s legal and bureaucratic profession, heaven knows.

But here’s a couple you might like: he wants the public to know how much the Fifa president and top officials earn – should be fun – and he wants all Fifa presidential candidates to take part in live debates on TV and in front of the six continental confederations.

Champagne has some decent ideas, but there is a flaw.

Asked if he could beat Blatter, Champagne said: “I don’t think so, he’s someone of relevance.”

You do feel a little more conviction will help his cause.

But ultimately, it may be his ideas that win the day and end Blatter’s long reign.

Does Champagne have a case? Are orange cards and sin-bins a sensible solution?

Feel free to comment....

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