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Old 19th October 2015, 10:59   #1
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Default Nakhid challenges Europe's power, wealth in pitch for FIFA

Nakhid challenges Europe's power, wealth in pitch for FIFA
By Rob Harris
AP Oct. 18, 2015

Between bursts of tactical advice to youngsters on a soccer field in Lebanon, David Nakhid set out his vision for transforming FIFA.

To many in world soccer, Nakhid will be as unknown as the 12-year-old boys in the academy team under his guidance this Sunday morning. But the former captain of Trinidad and Tobago's national team is now appealing to FIFA's 209 members to entrust him with replacing Sepp Blatter and overhauling perhaps the most discredited institution in sport.

It says much about the culture of fear in football politics that Nakhid avoids naming the five federations who nominated him to stand for the FIFA presidency.

"People are afraid ... if I should not win the presidency there might be recriminations," Nakhid said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Sunday. "Imagine that."

Even as corruption and bribery scandals engulf football, Nakhid wants to put the game itself at the top of his election agenda.

"We can talk about transparency and corruption ad infinitum," he said. "In the end the way to address things is if you really have to address the problem about the lack of development.

"Development happens on the field not in offices. They (FIFA currently) stay in their offices and give out money ... the whole remedy for them is throw money at it."

Nakhid wants to distinguish himself from his rivals by accentuating his connection to the game on the field as a player in the United States, Europe and Middle East before taking on coaching jobs and opening an academy in Lebanon.

Ahead of the Oct. 26 cut-off, only two others have asked to be approved as candidates so far. They have a far higher profile, but only one is likely to be declared eligible: Former FIFA Vice President Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, the Jordan federation head, and UEFA President Michel Platini, who is in his second week of a 90-day suspension as he is investigated by FIFA's ethics committee.

Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalif of Bahrain is also considering entering the race.

"I'm not Mr. Moneybags, I have no luxury of being a prince or being with deep pockets but what I do have is message," Nakhid said.

Nakhid wants to stop wealth and power in the game converging in Europe to the detriment of leagues even in established territories like Brazil.

"The global model is untenable, you have a system where all the European countries are going to annihilate the powerhouses of other nations," Nakhid said. "Europe has to be more equitable and more honest in how they handle global football. They have a responsibility.

"Europe still complain they want money for the players who represent (teams) in the World Cup because they have that power. They are organized to that extent. But what about the rest of the world ... that is marginalized, that is left out. Who presents their case?"

As he kept one eye on the players under his guidance on Sunday morning in Lebanon, Sunday's 30-minute interview is punctuated by shouting orders to the youngsters — "wide, wide, wide" — while drawing footballing analogies for his campaign messages.

"Expansion without depth equals stagnation," Nakhid said, pointing to how squads require balance of depth of talent. "Without depth you never get true development."

Although Blatter has turned FIFA into a $5-billion behemoth over the last four years, Nakhid contends that the cash dispersed to nations is not filtering down to projects where it is most needed.

Nakhid highlights the incongruity of India, with a population of more than 1.2 billion and vibrant footballing fan base, having never played at a World Cup.

When Nakhid goes on the campaign trail, the name of compatriot Jack Warner is likely to come up.

The former FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF leader was banned from the game for life earlier this month after being indicted on bribery charges in the United States.

But Nakhid has challenged Warner's power for much of his life, first as a player and then an assistant coach for Trinidad and Tobago's 2006 World Cup team.

"When I was 24 years old I labeled him the consummate liar because I knew he was never for football," the 51-year-old Nakhid said.

Nakhid insists that's exactly what he is.

A player in Europe between 1988 and 1995 for Grasshoppers in Switzerland, Waregem in Belgium and PAOK in Greece, Nakhid moved to Lebanon to join Al Ansar before signing up with the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer between 1997 and 1998. Before ending his career at Al Ansar between 2000 and 2001, he played at Al Emirates in the United Arab Emirates.

In his post-playing career, Nakhid has run an academy in Beirut since 2006.

Having spent much of his recent career in relative anonymity, Nakhid's challenge is to convince more than a 105 football federations to vote for him in four months.

"I hope to win hearts and minds of the people and get them out of a system of patronage," he said. "That is going to be critical in the next five to ten years."
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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