David Ginola, the FIFA presidential candidate that has been publicly backed by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, seemingly has an endless number of challenges plaguing his campaign (such as it is).
He’s short on money, can’t seem to drum up support from member federations, and isn’t being taken seriously by many inside or outside of the world’s organizing body for soccer.
Now, there’s yet another problem: his connections might just be in violation of FIFA’s ethics code.
According to reports, Ginola may run into trouble because of Paddy Power, the main source of money and publicity behind what some are calling a “farcical” campaign.
The bookmaker has paid £250,000 ($380,000) to help Ginola launch his campaign, but the FIFA ethics code mentions a strict prohibition on gambling associations.
“Persons bound by this code shall be forbidden from taking part in, either directly or indirectly, or otherwise being associated with betting, gambling,” the ethics code states.
Ethics Charges Could Be Raised if Ginola Becomes Candidate
At the moment, that’s not a problem for Ginola, who isn’t an official candidate yet. But if he were able to get on the ballot by the Thursday deadline, the FIFA election guide says that candidates are bound by the ethics code.
“It will be part of the eligibility assessment of prospect FIFA presidential candidates by the Ad-Hoc Electoral Committee in accordance with the electoral regulations,” FIFA told the Associated Press.
Paddy Power, on the other hand, has said that they read that statute a little differently.
“Both the heading and the content of the rule clearly relate to the integrity of football matches and competitions,” the company said in a statement.
Ginola Campaign Fraught With Difficulties
As hard as it may be to believe, this might be one of the lesser problems in the Ginola candidacy.
After all, the former French international who played for both Tottenham and Newcastle will first have to get himself on the ballot, and support has been slow in coming.
In order to earn that ballot spot, Ginola will need to secure the nominations of at least five of FIFA’s 209 member federations by Thursday. So far, he hasn’t been publically backed by any nation, though he has said that he’s seeking the support of the Welsh federation.
Ginola also needs to prove that he’s been active in soccer circles for at least two of the last five years.
His credentials here are questionable: Ginola has worked as a consultant for an amateur, third-tier French club, but the president of that team says that Ginola has mostly worked over the phone for the past six years and is not paid for his services.
There are also questions about the crowd-funded nature of Ginola’s campaign.
Paddy Power plans to stop funding him from this point forward, saying that “this needs to be a fan-backed campaign.” Ginola’s website, TeamGinola.com, has hoped to raise £2.3 million ($3.5 million) by February 28 from the public.
The website claims that pledges are non-refundable even if Ginola doesn’t get on the ballot, though Paddy Power says they’ll try to fully reimburse fans who donated money if he doesn’t make it.
All of these issues, combined with Ginola’s poor performance at a press conference announcing the launch of his campaign, have meant that few in the soccer world are taking his candidacy seriously.
More legitimate contenders may include Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan. France’s Jerome Champagne, and Chile’s Harold Mayne-Nichols. However, all will be severe underdogs to unseat current FIDE President Sepp Blatter, who is seeking his fifth term in office.