Wednesday, July 10, 2013

GFF Elections: Former FIFA SG says it’s wrong to block candidates

 “When I read that some people are said to try to block some candidates to run, I think it’s not correct and frankly I think that we should have an open election,” Jerome Champagne said of the upcoming GFF elections. (Photo Credit: AFP)
A former FIFA Deputy General Secretary, Jerome Champagne, is dissatisfied with attempts to block candidates running for The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) presidency.

“To block candidates is not correct and frankly we should have an open election,” Champagne told West Coast Radio’s Abdoulie Bah on Monday in Ramallah, during FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s tour of Palestine.

The erstwhile French diplomat, who is expected to contest for the FIFA presidency in 2015 when Blatter is expected to stand-down, said “My thoughts on what is going on in Gambia - football is about democracy, and football is about giving a chance to everyone.”

Nothing to hide

 “When I read that some people are said to try to block some candidates to run, I think it’s not correct and frankly I think that we should have an open election,” the ex-Political Advisor to Blatter said.

The GFF is currently in a process of normalization after the sacking of the previous executive. 

It is expected to hold elections at the end of July this year, but tensions have since risen after strong opposition to allegations that the Normalisation Committee (NC) is up to bar some presidential aspirants including former President Seedy Kinteh. 

Mr Blatter (writing) was on a Middle East tour of Jordan, Palestine and Isreal (Photo Credit: FIFA)
Asked about the authenticity of the letter believed to be from FIFA barring candidates who brought the game into “state of agony” and if FIFA would advice such a move, Champagne said “I don’t know but I have observed that some people were asking to see the letter and I would like also as a citizen of world football - I’m interested about what’s going on in Gambia. There is nothing to hide.”

Honest election

Champagne, who also expressed his delight at Steve Biko’s winning of the GFF First Division League, refused to be drawn into a conversation about his relationship with former GFA (now GFF) presidents Seedy Kinteh and Alhagie Omar Sey - both of whom he has worked with.

He said: “Listen, it’s not a matter about being closer to one or another. When I was in FIFA for eleven years my job given to me by Mr Blatter was to ease contact with the federations around the world.

“I have known all the presidents of the Gambian FA since 1999 but I have no preference. It’s up to the clubs in Gambia to elect the person they want for the four years to come. 

“The solution is honest election… also what is very important is that Gambian football develops with more stadiums, more facilities and training programmes for the kids.”

On Steve Biko’s success, Champagne said: “I tell you, I follow. I am very excited to see Steve Biko football club being the champions after 35 years which is incredible. 

“But I think that it’s good, it shows that teams are changing and you have new comers. It’s not always Real De Banjul or Wallidan who are champion - which is fantastic.”  

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