(WFI) FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali bin al Hussein says it was “shocking” and “very disappointing” that he was not allowed to speak at the Asian Football Confederation congress last week and Sepp Blatter was.
The AFC congress took place in Manama, Bahrain and included an address from FIFA president Blatter.
But although the other candidates challenging him for election later this month were in attendance – Prince Ali, Michael van Praag of the Netherlands and Portugal’s Luis Figo – they were not allowed a platform to speak to the assembled associations.
The story was the same at the CONCACAF congress, with van Praag and Figo expressing their disappointment afterwards at having their requests to speak turned down.
All four candidates had been given a platform at the UEFA congress in March.
At the opening of the Soccerex Asian Forum at the Dead Sea Resort in Jordan, Prince Ali took the opportunity to voice his disapproval that at the way the situation had been handled in what was his last congress as FIFA vice president for Asia.
Prince Ali said: “Obviously it’s their confederation congress, but to me it was a bit shocking that you have the incumbent and the other candidates there. I could take Asia, for example, if I wasn’t running myself I would make sure that we get all four candidates on the stage and they have a chance to ask them questions to know what their programs are and to see where we can benefit and base our decisions on that. Unfortunately, that was not the case, not even in my own confederation.
“It wasn’t just in Asia but in other confederations as well. The reasoning was the incumbent was speaking only as the president of FIFA and not campaigning when we could all pretty much see that there was some campaigning going on.”
He added: “In Asia in particular, I wanted to take the stage both as an outgoing vice president to say ‘thank you’ and ‘wish you well,’ but also as a candidate and I was told I can’t. But I also insisted that if I go up to speak that also the other two candidates, Luis Figo and Michael van Praag, also get the opportunity to speak.
“Our continent is about dignity, about respect, and that’s very important. Hospitality is also crucial for us and for me it was a bit shocking that I was invited to UEFA as a candidate outside of UEFA to take the stage, when others come to my continent but they’re not given that opportunity as well. So it was very disappointing.”
Prince Ali, the head of the Jordan FA, will end his four-year service in FIFA if he is not elected on May 29 in Zurich as his seat on the executive committee will be taken by AFC president Sheikh Salman.
Asia is not believed to be wholly unanimous in their support for Blatter, even though Sheikh Salman declared support for the Swiss in January.
If Prince Ali manages to gain a majority in the votes of the 209 FIFA member associations, he maintains that he will work to make FIFA more “open” and crucially more generous.
“I think we have to be a lot more open and transparent in how we do things” he said. “There’s nothing to hide, or there shouldn’t be. We have to have a regional outlook. They have their specific challenges. You cannot run everything from Zurich.
“FIFA has a good budget but should put much more percentage back in to the game. I take UEFA, for example. At least 80 percent of their budget goes back into football, and that’s how it should be.”
Security Expert Warns of “Cyber Attacks”
More than 50 million cyber attacks were recorded within the first week of the London 2012 Olympics, according to a security expert.
Malcom Tarbitt of the International Centre for Sport Security also warned that football will suffer “severe” attacks in the near future if the issue is not taken seriously.
The former police officer made his comments to reporters referring to how much of a challenge the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be, citing last year’s tournament as a precedent.
“Qatar is a massive challenge,” Tarbitt said. “The threats around at the moment, if you just look at cyber attacks … the opening match of the Brazil World Cup had 10,000 credible attacks alone. They tried to target the lighting, the broadcasting, the ticketing systems, the surveillance, the power – everything.
“This will become more advanced and more severe. London 2012 had more than 50 million cyber-attacks within the first week. That is a staggering figure,” he added.
Tarbitt also referenced the danger of drones being used in sport, referring to the incident in the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match between Serbia and Albania in October of last year when a drone flew into the Partizan Stadium in Belgrade carrying an irredentist Albanian flag which had derogatory comments on it.
The offending item was removed by a player sparking violent scenes on the pitch and in the stands. The match was eventually abandoned with Serbia later awarded a 3-0 walkover but also deducted three points.
The spectacle was a crucial warning sign, according to Tarbitt.
“If you do this for a FIFA World Cup, there’s a lot of money in terms of broadcast rights. It’s big money; this is a big issue,” he said.
Given recent developments in drone technology and their involvement in international antagonism, a blow to revenue may be the least of football’s fears.
Eaton Backs Governmental Support
FIFA’s former head of security Chris Eaton reiterated his belief that governments were responsible for clamping down on illegal betting and match-fixing, and that it shouldn’t be left to sports bodies.
Eaton, who is now an executive director at the ICSS, has long called for more global cooperation on the organized crime syndicate in sport.
But on the final panel on day one of the Soccerex Asian Forum, he reinforced the notion that governments should be the ones to confront the integrity issues in sport.
“Everyone is rushing to blame the player – and there is blame – but the real perpetrators are the people who are the corruptors, who are making the betting fraud windfalls and this is where governments are failing,” Eaton said.
“Governments are letting sport take the blame for the corruption of their own people by organized
He later added his belief that China could have been, and indeed should be, a powerhouse in world football but that the widespread matchfixing problems in the country have held them back.
Eaton added: “A lot of people are trying desperately to minimize the extent of corruption on the field of play. We need, from club level to FIFA itself, a joined-up common effort, searching for a silver bullet is not working.
“In the last five years there has been an upsurge in the prosecution of players and referees but we haven’t seen any stemming of matchfixing at all. Football is the most gambled-on sport, and organized criminality is infiltrating into an area in which it does not belong.”
By INSIDER reporter Christian Radnedge in Jordan
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