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Jerome Champagne's bid for FIFA presidency could fall flat

The first candidate to announce he will stand for the FIFA presidency next year has admitted he would struggle to beat Sepp Blatter if he decides to seek a fifth term in office.

Jerome Champagne, a former French diplomat who was previously an advisor to Blatter, refused to say whether he would stand against his old boss and conceded he would probably lose if he did so.

Champagne's admission prompted speculation over the reasons for announcing his candidacy, but he insisted he is not a stalking horse to deter other potential opponents to the 77-year-old Blatter, who has been FIFA president since 1998.

Asked if he could beat Blatter, Champagne said: "No I don't think so, he's someone of relevance. I don't know whether Mr Blatter will run or not. Of course as matter of politeness I informed him what I was planning to do. I don't know what he will do. Some people say I am manipulated by him but I tell you no - I stand because I believe in what I saying."

Champagne's manifesto would be revolutionary on the field at least - he is standing on a platform of quotas on foreign players, technology for decisions such as offsides and penalties, as well as introducing the 10-yard rule to punish dissent, orange cards and sin-bins.

His ideas for changes to FIFA's organisation would concentrate power in the hands of the president, with the winning candidate able to appoint his own board rather than answer to the executive committee.

He said: "We need a different FIFA, more democratic, more respected, which behaves better and which does more."

Blatter said he will not decide whether to run for a fifth term until just before the FIFA Congress in June, but has insisted he "does not feel tired".

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