Former Fifa Presidential contender Jerome Champagne has warned that football must heal its wounds after the resignation of Sepp Blatter.
The Frenchman, who put himself forward as a potential Fifa President before withdrawing early in the 2015 race, added that there was much to be done in the wake of a week that has rocked the sport.
Although Blatter won re-election last Friday (29 May), it came against the backdrop of seven top football officials being arrested in Zurich and twin investigations being launched into bribery and corruption in Switzerland and the United States.
Authorities in both countries are now investigating the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, while the US is also looking at the awarding of a number of other football tournaments and marketing rights. With his rule becoming increasingly untenable, Blatter quit on Tuesday (2 June).
"Yesterday when I was watching live I was stunned, flabbergasted, shocked, sad a little of course as well because I know what Mr Blatter has done for 40 years of the game," Champagne, a former Fifa employee, said outside Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland on Wednesday (3 June).
"But at the same time I read again closely what has been said after that, a programme of reform that I called myself when I was a candidate to make sure that the Fifa executive committee is controlled by the national FAs rather than the continental confederates. Look I am like you, I am following the media, following the news and they are coming regularly. The real question today is to do the reforms we need and to have a transparent, democratic, meaningful debate. But what will also be very important is that we need to have a debate with real issues, real debates, real programmes not a long list of slogans as politically correct, empty with details."
Champagne also accused Uefa - who lead the anti-Blatter campaign - of double standards and said there needed to be reconciliation between European football's governing body and Fifa.
"Everyone loves European football," he said. "The planet will watch the (Champions League) final on Saturday but at the same time there is a form of resentment. For example it has been said that Fifa is distributing development programmes to obtain votes. Uefa is doing the same thing inside Europe but it is not questioned. You have a lot of double standards issues and I think that is why we need to reconcile Fifa and Uefa, because it would be extremely bad if this dividing between Fifa and Uefa between the one person of elite and the 99 per cent who are suffering. I think we would have a real, real problem."
Champagne also argued that Blatter's unpopularity in Western Europe may not be replicated in other parts of the world, and there may be resentment towards the richest footballing nations.
"We need to understand the fact that in a lot of countries which have nothing, they resent the fact they are accused of being corrupt because Fifa built them a headquarters or a technical centre or an artificial pitch," he said. "There is still a gap between the ones whose kids can play on green beautiful grass and the other ones who are definitely suffering, including in the top tier."
And with Fifa under the media spotlight, Champagne warned that not every wrongdoing in football administration could be laid at its door.
"We need to restore Fifa's image," he said. "We need to be fair as well. Because there is a lot of accusations that have been levelled by, for example, the department of justice that confederations only, and as you know the confederations are not members, they are independents, and as you know the confederations refused Fifa to control them so we need to restore unity in the pyramid and really Fifa and the World Cup belong to the national FAs."
Although he pulled out early in the 2015 presidential race when he could not gather enough support, Champagne said he had not necessarily ruled out running again, with fresh elections expected in around six month's time.
"To answer the last part of your question, it is way too early to decide," he said. "I have seen that immediately some guys are putting their name forward for, as Andy Warhol was saying, their 15 minutes of fame and celebrity. When I was a candidate, and as you know I was the only candidate which put on the table a very detailed programme, an analysis of the game and also a concrete and realistic financial proposals. So far the other candidates in the past month were just a long list of slogans. So we need real debates, real programmes."