(WFI) Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein tells INSIDER he doesn’t believe Sepp Blatter has a stranglehold of support on any continent.
Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou on Wednesday pledged the support of all of CAF’s 54 member federations to help the Swiss win a fifth term as FIFA president. However, there was no CAF resolution to back Blatter and no standing ovation.
Speaking to INSIDER, the Jordanian was dismissive of the notion that the 79-year-old has a lock on any of the six confederations, emphasizing that it is the football federations who will cast their votes.
“I have never looked at this word ‘strongholds’ from one place to another. This is a world election,” Ali said.
“Every national association should be allowed to vote without any form of intimidation from any officials. I hope that that’s respected by all.”
Asked how confident he is in winning votes from African FAs, a majority of whom have been loyal to Blatter over many years, Prince Ali took a dig at the FIFA chief.
“What this is about is the future of FIFA and FIFA is for the world. In the past, obviously people have been very savvy politically to divide confederations along different lines,” he said.
“I want to do the opposite. I want to get everybody together in a vision for how this organisation should be run and not play the games others have played and might still be playing right now. I am there to serve football for the world over, no matter how large or small a federation is.”
The 39-year-old outgoing FIFA vice president used the launch of his manifesto on Monday to criticize Blatter’s leadership of world football’s governing body, which has been dogged by scandals over the past few years.
Rotation of the World Cup around the continents is a key pledge in his manifesto titled ‘A FIFA Worthy of the World’s Game’. Ali said the FIFA showpiece could even be played in different countries like UEFA’s Euro 2020 tournament, which is being hosted in 13 nations.
Ali also cautioned against expanding the World Cup beyond the current 32-nation format. And he again criticized the plan to reallocate the slots for each confederation for future tournaments at a meeting on May 29, saying a proper debate was needed.
He called for a change at the top of FIFA to restore its reputation and avoid problems attracting commercial partners.
Some major sponsors have chosen not to extend their partnerships with FIFA due to the wave of corruption scandals that have tarnished Blatter’s organisation.
Critical Moments in FIFA Race
Prince Ali told INSIDER that his proposals for a major FIFA facelift reflected the discussions he has had with some of the 209 global federations on the campaign trail.
“The important thing is to sit down and talk with them. I am very happy with the discussions I have had in Africa and across the world,” he said.
“My focus is on the national associations, their interests and how they want football to develop in the future
and the leadership style they think applies the best way.”
Criss-crossing the globe, he insisted he had been “getting a good eye for many of the challenges”.
Of the mood in his campaign camp, he said: “I am very confident that I am trying my best, doing my best. I hope that come May 29 the outcome will be something new for the organisation. I am putting my all into winning the presidency.”
With the CONCACAF and AFC congresses taking place later this month, the next few weeks are critical moments in the race for the FIFA presidency. Dutch FA president Michael van Praag and former Portugal star Luis Figo are also challenging Blatter.
Through his experience in heading the Jordanian FA and four years as a FIFA vice president, Ali said he wanted to show the national associations that he was willing to listen and learn and underline his presidential credentials “to take this organization forward in the future”.
Asked if he had concerns about Blatter’s campaign style – whether he might be using his FIFA role to lobby for votes – Prince Ali warned that he would remain vigilant that all candidates were adhering to FIFA’s strict code of conduct for the election.
“He still remains president of FIFA until May 29,” he said. “Having said that, I hope people keep to their word and the [FIFA] administration doesn’t get involved in the election process itself, which is a concern, and that this is a fair, clean and proper election. I will give the benefit of the doubt unless I see otherwise.”
Vowing to improve the governance of FIFA and its transparency, Prince Ali plans to make public the salaries and compensation paid to the president and ExCo members.
He is firmly behind IOC president Thomas Bach’s bid for greater transparency in the sports movement. The compensation packages for IOC members including Bach were made public last week.
“I have been observing what he has been doing and the vision for 2020. I think it’s extremely commendable,” Ali said.
“I think it’s great that organisations are moving in that way. I will obviously be taking that sort of outlook for the future of FIFA.”
The Jordanian believes Blatter has failed to turn the organization around in the wake of the World Cup bribery scandals, despite a reforms package. He points to the failure to implement several recommendations of FIFA’s former anti-corruption chief Mark Pieth.
He added: “I do believe also Mark Pieth’s recommendations should be implemented.
“We know where the reputation of FIFA is right now. It’s very unfair for people in the football world doing their best, and the only way to bring back confidence is to be open and transparent.”
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
Your best source of news about the global football business is World Football INSIDER