(WFI) Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein vows to review the Garcia Report on World Cup bidding and establish an integrity unit and whistle-blowing policy if he wins the FIFA election.
Speaking at the Geneva Press Club on Thursday, he said the Feb. 26 election was the last chance for FIFA to show “it is prepared to turn its back on shame and turmoil of the past and that it’s ready to turn a new page”.
Under plans for his first year in office set out today, Prince Ali listed seven areas in which he aims to stabilise the scandal-hit world football federation. “No gimmicks, no empty slogans,” he said, insisting his proposals were designed to regain the trust of FIFA stakeholders including fans of the game.
Ali also committed to working with the Swiss and US attorney generals currently investigating FIFA corruption “to resolve issues as quickly as possible”.
Other tasks include a full business analysis, improving FIFA’s administration, including recruiting a new CEO, and implementing reforms of. However, he promises only to review the package of reforms generated by Francois Carrard’s FIFA Reform Committee and prepare a discussion document for the May FIFA Congress in Mexico City.
Reviewing the botched 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process that was tarnished with bribery and corruption, increasing development support for FIFA’s 209 member FAs and striking new commercial partnerships are also on Prince Ali’s radar.
At the press conference, Ali said reviewing former FIFA investigator Michael Garcia’s report into the World Cup bidding process was a “top priority” and would start in March if he was chosen to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter at the Feb. 26 election.
“I will be a hands-on president,” he said, pledging not to interfere or micromanage but to “accept responsibility for people’s actions and remain accountable to the outside world”.
In his remarks to media before taking questions, Prince Ali was more opinionated than he has been in the past about what needs to change to reform FIFA’s wrecked credibility.
Saying he was “considered a rebel” in his 2011- 2015 tenure as a FIFA vice president, the Jordanian said he would bring “stability, commonsense and a strong will” to the helm of FIFA “at this critical time”.
He said Feb. 26 was “the most crucial date in the history of governance of the sport”.
“We have wasted a year already,” Ali said, a reference to his defeat to Blatter in the May 2015 election before the corruption scandal engulfed FIFA and forced Blatter to announce resignation plans. “We need to get back in shape to serving the sport.”
Snipes at Rivals
He dismissed suggestions by Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko that candidates might seek to forge alliances next week, saying it was important for all five contenders to be at the FIFA election “to make their views heard… it serves the purpose better than unity and consensus”.
“I don’t think deals should be made… and even if they are, that’s something other candidates have to respond to,” he added.
The 40-year-old also took a dig at his rival candidates Gianni Infantino and Sheikh Salman, regarded as the frontrunner, who have both publicly announced endorsements from CONMEBOL and the Afrian football confederation respectively.
“The election should not be decided by regionality but which candidate has credibility, commitment and the right values to bring change,” he told reporters.
Unlike his biggest rivals – Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale are outsiders – Prince Ali has chosen not to announce who is endorsing him on a regular basis. Every federation is free to vote as they wish in the secret ballot, despite any confederation promising its members will vote as a bloc.
“I am someone who is there to unite the world. I don’t use confederations or ExCos to push people in a certain way. That’s what differentiates me form other candidates,” he said.
Emphasizing that he wasn’t in the business of criticizing other candidates, he did take a pop at Sheikh Salman following allegations that he was involved in human rights abuses in the anti-government protests in Bahrain in 2011.
Whether true or not, Prince Ali said the fact of the matter was “that person [Salman] did not protect or stick up for his players at the time”.
Prince Ali wheeled out backer Liberian FA pres Musa Bility – the man who failed FIFA integrity checks in November and was kicked out of the FIFA presidential race.
Bility explained that there were divisions in African football and the CAF ExCo’s backing for Sheikh Salman would not see a huge swathe of the continent’s 54 votes going to the head of Asian football.
After his campaign team said Wednesday that Prince Ali was not going to Miami to pitch CONCACAF delegates today, with a video presentation being show, a change of plan was revealed this morning.
Prince Ali got on a plane from Geneva to Miami soon after the press conference. He and the other four FIFA hopefuls will each get 20 minutes to pitch the 41 federations of CONCACAF this evening.
INSIDER will be on the scene in Miami to report on the meeting.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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