Jerome Champagne has confirmed that he has dropped his interest in the forthcoming Fifa presidential election after failing to win enough backing for his bid.
The former French diplomat, 56, had wanted to challenge incumbent Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency, but has announced that he will be stepping down as he had won nomination from only three national associations; two short of the stipulated five.
“I regret to have to announce that I have not presented the five sponsorship letters needed to be registered as a candidate in the election of May 29,” Champagne said in a statement.
“I warmly thank the three federations that have endorsed me and the many presidents who explained with candor and friendship, that they could not do it despite their interest in my program.
“The reasons were numerous. Because they feared reprisal from their confederations having issued “recommendations”. Because their federations were candidates to host continental competitions. Because they relied heavily on the financial support. Because they were committed to defend a united continental front. Because some of the presidents were themselves engaged in an election or simply preferred another candidate.
“The institutions have mobilised to eliminate the only independent candidate. The latest event orchestrated in secret with barely veiled intentions by one of them distributing letters of support between candidates, made me lose sponsorship especially in Europe.”
The development means Fifa vice-president Prince Ali Bin al Hussein of the Jordanian FA, Dutch FA boss Michael van Praag and former Portugal international Luis Figo are among the candidates trying to unseat Blatter, who is seeking for a fifth tenure in office.
There has been contrasting reports concerning the candidature of David Ginola, with the retired French international claiming he is still in the race after announcing he too failed to gain the endorsement from associate federations.