PtG Article 27.10.2014

Champagne plans to raise FIFA's financial assistance payment

Jérôme Champagne has raised the stakes in the battle for the FIFA presidency with a proposal that could provide the Frenchman – so far the only confirmed candidate running against the incumbent Sepp Blatter – a swathe of votes in next year’s election.

In his latest round of proposals unveiled earlier this week, Champagne has suggested that on winning he would double the USD 250,000 Financial Assistance Payment (FAP) paid out to all FIFA members – but only for the 100 lowest ranked countries.

Champagne says: “There are a lot of associations around the world where the budget is barely sufficient. In Africa, for example, the associations at small sized countries have to play the qualifiers for the World Cup every four years, then the African Cup of Nations every two years, then the Olympic qualifiers, the women’s teams and the Under-20 qualifiers.”

On winning, Champagne would cut by 5% the USD 4 billion spent by FIFA every four years on non-development activities with a view to increasing the USD 900 million spent on development. He says that the money would not be invested simply in helping national teams play, but to help the top divisions in lower ranked countries.

“In some countries, clubs are finding it difficult to play in the African Champions League because of the cost. So they are in a position not to play or rely on their government,” added Champagne, who wants to carry out a census of all the top divisions at every FIFA member if he wins.

All FIFA’s member associations received a one-off extra USD 750,000 payment this year and there have been other one-off payments in the past. Champagne’s proposal would provide a vital regular extra revenue stream for associations in more isolated countries that are often unable to play regular internationals due to the cost of airfares.

For example, Papua New Guinea recently turned down the offer of a game in Myanmar because, while accommodation was provided, the PNG association needed to find  USD 25,000 to cover the cost of flying from Port Moresby to Naypyidaw. Instead, Papua New Guinea flew to Manila for a hastily arranged game with the Philippines.

Many of these smaller associations can be reliant on agents to help arrange friendlies that include travel and accommodation, and anti-corruption campaigners have raised concerns about the legitimacy of some of friendlies.

Providing extra money at associations where governance is weak could also present a problem. Only this week, FIFA sent a normalisation committee to Guyana, after the federation there proved incapable of running the country’s affairs. To improve governance whilst also making more money available, Champagne wants to create a special division at the world body with this as its sole focus.

“I want to reinforce the capacity for analysis. Joining associations and development together is too much,” says Champagne, who wants national associations to focus on running own leagues and national teams and leave development to FIFA.

He also proposes that smaller associations use FIFA’s travel agency. He adds:

“FIFA has a very good travel agency that could do a lot. I also propose a procurement centre to get better pricing and synergies. FIFA has done a lot to promote the global association over the last 10 years. The challenge over the next ten years is to focus on national associations.”

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