Prince Ali (Getty)

(WFI) Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein is urging the FIFA Executive Committee meeting next week not to “interfere” amid calls for the presidential election to be delayed.

As Issa Hayatou arrives in Zurich on Wednesday to assume duties as acting president of the scandal-battered football governing body, FIFA presidential hopeful Prince Ali today broke his silence on the 90-day suspensions handed down to president Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Platini was the frontrunner to replace Blatter, but is seemingly out of the race for the presidency. The FIFA Ethics committee also helpfully removed another opponent when Chung Mong-joon, the South Korean Ali ousted from FIFA’s inner sanctum in 2011, was banned for six years for World Cup bidding ethics breaches.

With the Oct. 26 deadline for presidential bids looming, Prince Ali finds himself as the frontrunner. But after his defeat to Sepp Blatter in May’s election, he is fearful that his best chance of replacing the embattled 79-year-old may be wrecked by the FIFA ExCo convening for an emergency meeting on Oct. 20. Discussions will be held on whether to postpone the FIFA election. 

“Recent events at FIFA have shown us that no one is above the law. The Ethics Committee must now be allowed to do its work in a robust and timely fashion,” Prince Ali said in a statement issued early Wednesday.

“With FIFA’s crisis deepening, the organization needs to move beyond interim leadership and elect an accountable president.”

Ali insisted that delaying the scheduled Feb. 26 election “would only postpone needed change and create further instability”.

“It would tell the world that lessons haven’t been learned, that the same backroom deals that have discredited FIFA in the first place continue,” he argued.

“The ExCo should not interfere with an ongoing process that was put in place by the ad hoc electoral committee. The election date of February 26 was set three months ago with a clear procedure that meets all of FIFA’s statutory requirements,” he added.

“Candidates have had plenty of time to declare and still do. The rules should not be changed after the game has started.”

With Chung out of the race, Prince Ali is the favourite to succeed Blatter. But other contenders will declare their intentions in the coming days.

Asian football boss Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa may be mulling a run at the FIFA presidency, which would have the backing of Asian sports power broker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

INSIDER is told by a source close to Sheikh Ahmad that the Kuwaiti, a Blatter ally, is not currently considering a bid and is waiting to see what happens at the emergency FIFA ExCo meeting next week.

Both Salman and Ahmad will use the Zurich summit to canvas support for a second Asian assault on the FIFA presidency, specifically to stop Prince Ali getting an easy run. They may also throw Asian support behind a European candidate, although none has yet to emerge. Sheikh Ahmad refused to back Prince Ali in the May FIFA presidential election, the Kuwaiti FIFA ExCo member bringing most of the continent’s votes to Blatter’s campaign.

UEFA’s executive committee meets in Nyon on Thursday, with leadership questions following Platini’s suspension and FIFA’s corruption crisis top of the agenda.

Former FIFA secretary-general Michel Zen Ruffinen and former South African government minister Tokyo Sexwale are among others said to be considering running for the top job in world football.

Blatter is suspected of making a “disloyal” $2 million payment to UEFA president Michel Platini in 2011 and striking a World Cup TV rights contract with disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner that was “unfavourable to FIFA”. The corruption allegations are the subject of separate investigations by the Swiss Attorney General FIFA Ethics Committee. Both deny wrongdoing.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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