Three things that are absolutely certain in life: death, taxes and Paddy Power becoming controversial.
The last of these three things was in full display once again when the Irish bookmaker decided to throw a horse into the FIFA presidency. No, it didn’t throw an actual horse into the proceedings, although that still wouldn’t come as a surprise since we’re dealing with Paddy Power here.
What it did, though, might be a little more controversial, if not downright amusing.
In an attempt to “gain transparency” in the dealings of football’s governing body, Paddy Power took it upon itself to pay former Tottenham Spurs player David Ginola close to $380,000 to run for FIFA president. You better believe it because it’s absolutely true.
“This campaign is all about transparency and we are paying David £250,000 (nearly $380,000) for the campaign and for being here today,” a Paddy Power spokesman told Reuters late last week.
“It is his full-time job now and, hopefully, will be for the next four months.”
If you’re not familiar on who Ginola is, here’s his background as a former football player. Ginola is former French international who played professional football from 1985 to 2002 for a handful of clubs, including Paris St. Germain (PSG), Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle, Aston Villa, and Everton. Since his retirement, he focused on a handful of other endeavors, including acting and modeling, most prominently being featured as a model for L’Oreal’s line of shampoos.
His credentials as a football player is without doubt. It’s in his Wikipedia page, after all. But as far as having the necessary tools to actually serve as a FIFA president? Well, that’s a little more complicated.
Ginola (and Paddy Power) didn’t do himself any favors during the press conference to announce his candidacy. Turns out, the 47-year old is none the wiser on the myriad of issues FIFA is currently facing, including bribery allegations on the bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
He also couldn’t identify a single member of FIFA’s executive committee, which, you know, is pretty important because if he’s elected FIFA president, these are the same people he’s going to have to work with. He did utter words like “transparency” and “democracy,” although how much traction mentioning these words will bring to his candidacy is still an open question.
And lest I forget, Ginola’s platform seems to be grounded on the fact that he “loves football,” which is admirable if only he understood the steps needed to take to ensure that the sport “he loves” can repair its opaque and corrupt image.
Ginola and Paddy Power did play at least one card right, unveiling a crowd-funded campaign that lets fans from all the over the world donate for his campaign. I’m not exactly sure how it’s going to work for serious fans who want nothing more than to see FIFA expunge its corrupt image.
But hey, if you’ve got money to spare, not to mention an extremely open mind, you can donate to Ginola’s campaign to see how far he and Paddy Power will take his candidacy.