Champagne confirms plan to challenge Blatter

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ZURICH (AP) — Former FIFA international relations director Jerome Champagne has confirmed his plan to challenge President Sepp Blatter in next year's election.

Champagne wrote on his campaign website Monday that he informed FIFA's 209 member federations and the election supervisor, Domenico Scala, of his decision.

The French former diplomat launched his campaign in London in January, and said then he doubted that he could beat Blatter.

"My sincerest wish from the outset has been to present my candidacy with a desire for fair and transparent debate," Champagne wrote Monday, proposing televised campaign events on a "global and/or continental scale."

Blatter, the president since 1998, has said he intends to announce his candidacy next week in Zurich after meeting FIFA's executive committee.

Champagne has declined to criticize Blatter publicly, and has joined his former boss in questioning the role of wealthy European football clubs and their governing body UEFA, whose president Michel Platini last month decided not to run in the FIFA election.

Champagne asked Monday "whether we want to continue with the current economic polarization, and the sporting imbalances it brings in its wake, or be willing to rebalance the game."

He also called for FIFA to be more modern in its management and include clubs, leagues and players in decision-making.

Candidates must have support from five FIFA member federations by late January.

Scala, who heads FIFA's audit and compliance committee, chairs a three-member panel overseeing the May 29 election. They will decide if Champagne is eligible, after serving as a consultant, including to the Palestinian football federation, since being forced out of FIFA in 2010.

Candidates must have had an "active role" in football for two of the past five years.

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