The 57-year-old Frenchman also accused Swiss rival Gianni Infantino,
who according to UEFA has the broad support of European nations, of
abandoning the region's soccer interests in backing the change in
timing of the tournament from traditional mid-year to avoid searing
Gulf summer heat.
Champagne told Reuters in an interview he did not believe the graft
allegations that have pitched FIFA into the worst crisis in its
112-year history meant the organization itself was corrupt "no
matter what some people might like to believe".
At the heart of the FIFA crisis is a 2010 decision to award the 2018
and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
In the weeks and months leading up to the announcement, there were
widespread allegations of vote-trading, bribery and corruption, with
two FIFA executive committee members suspended even before the
voting took place.
Both host nations deny any wrongdoing.
ARAB WORLD AND WORLD SOCCER
While criminal investigations continue into the awarding of the
tournaments, FIFA has changed the timing to the European winter for
the 2022 tournament. This alters regular season schedules of
domestic leagues for possibly two years. A move back to European
spring would be hugely popular around the world, not just in Europe.
"If I am elected president I will re-open the issue of the dates of
the tournament in Qatar because I want to defend not only the
European leagues, but football around the world.
"I think it is very important to send a signal to the Arab world
today, that you are part of us, the football civilization,
He said he was appalled by both FIFA and the European body UEFA's
agreement to the change in timing.
"It was Platini and Infantino's role to defend the interests of
European football but they did not do it because Platini had to
justify his vote for Qatar."
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Former UEFA head Michel Platini and ousted veteran FIFA president
Sepp Blatter have both been banned from soccer over a $2 million
payment made to Platini with Blatter's approval in 2011 for work
concluded nine years earlier.
A total of 41 individuals and entities, including many former FIFA
officials, have been charged with corruption-related offences in the
United States. The U.S. investigation is far from over and FIFA also
faces a parallel Swiss probe.
While Champagne wants the World Cup to be held in the Muslim world,
he says it should be moved to the United States if any of the
allegations of vote-rigging are proven.
"If it has to be reconsidered, we should not vote again but apply
the IOC (International Olympic Committee) jurisprudence, give the
gold medal to the silver medalist which was the United States in the
vote," he said. "Then we go to Asia in 2026."
Champagne, himself a former FIFA deputy general secretary, faces
opposition from Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Asian Football
Confederation (AFC) President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa,
South African businessman and politician Tokyo Sexwale as well as
Champagne said it was now the future that concerned him most.
"Of course FIFA is in a very grave situation, but I believe the
light will begin to shine through by the end of February," he said.
(Editing by: Ralph Boulton)
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