Thursday 14 November 2019

David Ginola: I have nothing against Sepp Blatter, but I will offer a fresh approach

Former France soccer player David Ginola holds up a glass at a press conference to launch his bid to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency, in London
Former France soccer player David Ginola holds up a glass at a press conference to launch his bid to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency, in London

David Ginola's unlikely bid for the FIFA presidency suffered two major hitches on day one.

The 47-year-old former Tottenham and Newcastle forward revealed he was being paid £250,000 to stand by bookmaker Paddy Power and was unable to name a single member of the world governing body's executive committee when pressed by journalists at a media conference in central London on Friday.

Ginola is inviting members of the public and other organisations to join 'Team Ginola' in a bid to challenge Sepp Blatter for the presidency.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, a FIFA vice-president and member of the executive committee, has confirmed he will stand against Blatter while former FIFA deputy secretary general Jerome Champagne also intends to run for office.

Blatter, 78, had initially said his current term would be his last, having held the position since 1998, but has now indicated an intention to run for a fifth term.

Ginola's bid has the backing of pressure group ChangeFIFA, which has long campaigned for new leadership at the top of an organisation that has faced numerous allegations of corruption.

Ginola's campaign is based on "something different, something fresh, a different approach,."

The Frenchman says that his says football deserves more respect than it is currently afforded.

"When you open a newspaper, you see a lot of controversy. Football should be trusted more than that. Everything must be more transparent."

Ginola confirmed at Friday's press conference that he had accepted the fee to stand and was unable to name a member of the FIFA ExCo when put on the spot by journalists.

He also admitted he had not yet received endorsement for his campaign from any national association - at least five must back him by the January 29 deadline if he is fulfil the criteria to stand at the election in May.

Ginola also added that he has no personal gripe with Blatter, but feels a new perspective would benefit the organistaion.

"I don't know Mr Blatter and I have nothing against him. I'm not standing against him."

"The two other candidates are from FIFA. I don't have anything inside FIFA, I am brand new."

Ginola must also prove he has played an active role in football in at least two of the last five years - he cited consultancy work with French third tier club Etoile Frejus St Rafael since 2010 on this point. Ginola did also play a part in the unsuccessful England bid campaign to host the 2018 World Cup.

The bidding for that tournament - and for the subsequent 2022 finals - has been mired in controversy.

American lawyer Michael Garcia was tasked with producing a report into the bidding for the two tournaments. He quit last month as FIFA's ethics investigator after losing his appeal challenging the findings to clear Russia and Qatar to host the competitions.

FIFA's executive committee later agreed unanimously to an ''appropriate'' form of the Garcia report being published but with names and other details removed.

However, it was stated that no publication would take place until ethics committee charges against three FIFA ExCo members - Angel Villar Llona of Spain, Belgium's Michel D'Hooghe and Thailand's Worawi Makudi - have been dealt with.

FIFA also faced scandal before the last presidential election in 2011. Blatter's chief rival for office, Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, was banned from all football activity for life in 2012 for attempting to bribe Caribbean delegates.

A media release on behalf of Team Ginola confirmed it would need to raise £2.3million to run the campaign, and was seeking contributions from members of the public.

Ginola said in a video posted on the website: "I'm standing because like you, I love football.

"Whether you are on the terraces or on the pitch we all know that the FIFA system isn't working.

"The game needs to change, but I can't change it on my own. I need you to stand up and change it with me. I need you in my team.

"By joining Team Ginola you are saying 'yes' to a FIFA built on democracy, transparency and equality. You are saying 'yes' to a FIFA which cares about one thing - football."

Another FIFA vice-president, Jeffrey Webb, told Press Association Sport: "This betting firm is notorious for controversial PR stunts but the role of FIFA president is an extremely important one for many millions of people around the world."

The CONCACAF president added: "I would certainly hope that the forthcoming FIFA election would not be used in any way to promote commercial interests."

PA Media

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