Fifa presidential hopeful Jerome Champagne believes the reputation of the world game’s governing body is being unfairly tainted by the corruption allegations which emerged in the British press this week.
The Sunday Times printed a wide-ranging report which identified potential vote-rigging in favour of the successful Qatar 2022 World Cup bid, with former AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam having allegedly paid €3.7 million to help secure votes from African confederation chiefs.
But while many observers have pointed to the developments as further evidence of Fifa’s shortcomings, Champagne has jumped to the governing body’s defence in an exclusive Goal interview.
“Fifa is in a pyramid where you have Fifa at the top and then after that you have the federations. In between them on the side you have the confederations, which are not members of Fifa,” the Frenchman explained.
“And you will have noticed that the names which have been circulating involved in this case are mostly presidents of confederations. So once again Fifa is blamed for the behaviour of members of the pyramid.”
US lawyer Michael Garcia was charged by Fifa three years ago to conduct an investigation into practices of corruption in the world game, and the report from the former attorney is due to be completed next week.
And Champagne is keen for football to wait for Garcia’s findings before fully exploring the possible next steps in relation to the 2022 finals.
“First we need to know the result of the investigation, and then it will be up to the tribunal of the ethics committee to decide. But we need to know to what extent what has been discovered impacted the voting, and to what extent it impacted the many people inside the Fifa Executive Committee,” he added.
“Everyone is talking about a re-vote but there could be other options. If it’s proven that there were some misdeeds, will the list of candidates be the same? If you suspend someone for doping that person doesn’t have the right to run again.
“It could be that you’d followed IOC jurisprudence where a gold medallist found positive for doping is stripped of his gold medal and the gold medal is given to the silver medallist. But you are innocent until proven guilty and we have to wait for the outcome of the investigation.”