Champagne launches bid officially

Sepp Blatter's former right-hand man Jerome Champagne officially launched his bid to stand for the FIFA presidency on Monday, firing the first shot in a potential 15-month battle for control of the world's richest and most influential sport.

Frenchman Champagne, 55, a former diplomat, worked at FIFA for 11 years between 1999 and 2010 and is a former deputy Secretary General of world soccer's governing body.

The presidential elections will take place in June 2015 with Blatter expected to stand for a fifth term and facing a possible challenge from UEFA president Michel Platini for the role second only to the presidency of the International Olympic Committee in global sporting importance.

Champagne, speaking at the London site where the English FA, the world's oldest, was founded in 1863, ended months of speculation by declaring his bid on a platform of reform based on his far-reaching 20,000-word document "What FIFA for the 21st century ?" published in 2012.

He said his election slogans: "Hope for Football, Hope for All" and "Re-Balance the Game in a Globalised 21st Century" emphasise his message of curbing the polarisation of the game into pockets of elite clubs in Europe's richest leagues.

Champagne said he was advocating major changes to modernise the organisation: "It needs to be more transparent and more in tune with the modern world. We need to redress the imbalances in the world game.”

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