Four of the five candidates to become the next man to run global football have scored a spectacular own goal.
Only one of the people seeking to take over the FIFA presidency showed up at the European Parliament for a debate on the future of the sport’s governing body.
Jerome Champagne, a former French diplomat, agreed to face MEPs.
His rivals to suceed the disgraced Sepp Blatter had all signed up, but dropped out, one by one, this week.
They are Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan, South African politician and businessman Tokyo Sexwale, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, and Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa of Bahrain.
“It’s a good thing to have several candidates, it’s bad thing not to turn up and only inform us 24 hours before the start of the debate. It was an unique opportunity for restore Fifa’s image that has been tarnished for years,” sais Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella, a co-organiser of the debate.
Champagne played a part in his homeland’s hosting of the 1998 World Cup. He says he’s serious about reforming FIFA.
“Everywhere in the football world, there is a certain will to turn the page and to do the reforms needed. This election is important. We need a strong FIFA to govern the game but also to correct the inequalities because if we go on like this, as I’ve said, we will see African, South American and Central American football marginalised,” he told reporters after the meeting in Brussels.
US justice officials have charged some 40 individuals or entities in relation into corruption at FIFA.
Outgoing president Sepp Blatter, who steps down next month, has been banned for eight years from football. He denies any wrongdoing.