(Getty)

(WFI) Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein will set up an independent oversight group to “steer FIFA through its first year to recover from crisis” and support reforms if elected next week.

The FIFA candidate from Jordan said late Thursday that the group will be led by Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, while Rick Parry, former chief executive of the Premier League and Liverpool FC, would also have a role.

“The FIFA Oversight Group will serve as the safest possible pair of hands to put FIFA back on track. It is an essential element to revive FIFA’s reputation and restore it to what it should be – a service organisation for football,” Prince Ali said in a statement.

“I believe that this group will be able to provide a truly interactive and participatory process for the FAs and give them the ownership and the chance to work with the fairest and most distinguished people the world has to offer.

“The group will guide the presidency just as it will guide the FAs of FIFA. Having the commitment of a group of people with such impeccable credentials, unquestioned integrity and global standing represents an unprecedented response to the unprecedented crisis sweeping FIFA.”

New FIFA Now, the campaign group co-founded by British MP Damian Collins, chairman of SKINS Jaimie Fuller and former Australian FA official Bonita Mersiades, had suggested last summer that Annan should lead an independent reforms process to revamp FIFA.

Prince Ali’s plan is part of his first-year in office proposals, launched at a press conference in Geneva last week. The scope of the oversight group’s work will evolve over time. Initially it will assist in devising the best ways to bring about meaningful reforms. The group’s immediate tasks will focus on stablising finances and governance issues, with a focus on improving FIFA’s development efforts globally in the long term.

FIFA is engulfed in scandal, with 41 individuals or entities indicted on corruption charges in the US. Swiss and US authorities are currently conducting investigations into corruption at FIFA. Disgraced ex-FIFA chief Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are appealing eight-year bans handed down over a “disloyal” $2 million payment. Former secretary general Jerome Valcke was last week banned from football for 12 years for serious misconduct relating to underselling World Cup tickets, abuse of travel expenses and destruction of evidence to thwart FIFA investigators.

Prince Ali is up against Asian football chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino, Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale in the battle to seize the top job in world football.

Salman Vows to Revitalise FIFA

One week before the election, Sheikh Salman said he

Prince Ali (Getty)

will continue to outline his vision to FAs, despite abandoning the idea of further international travel to meet and lobby FIFA’s 209 member federations.

INSIDER exclusively reported on Thursday that Sheikh Salman had already flown to Zurich and was recovering from travel fatigue after a grueling campaign. He plans to meet football association leaders from all corners of the globe as they arrive in Zurich for several days of confederation meetings leading up to the Feb. 26 election.

“During the next seven days I will continue to outline my vision. The values of integrity, respect and tolerance are at the heart of my campaign,” Salman said in a statement on Friday. “I want the role of FIFA president to be redefined, restructured and revitalised. This is one of the most important elections in FIFA’s history.

“Under my leadership I want a FIFA that will be run for the benefit of all the people around the world who care so deeply about the sport of football. These have been very difficult years for FIFA. I promise to work tirelessly to develop a governing body of which all followers of football can once again be proud.”

Blatter Won’t Endorse Successor

Blatter and Platini are expected to hear early next week whether appeals against their bans have been successful. The 79-year-old protested his innocence after attending the hearing in Zurich earlier this week.

He is also refusing to publicly support any of the five FIFA candidates, confirming that four of them have been in contact with him. Blatter said that a few of FIFA’s 209 member FAs have asked him where to cast their votes and he responded “vote with your conscience”, the Associated Press quoted him as telling French radio station RMC.

Rumours of Brown Envelopes

As the fight for the FIFA presidency intensifies and rumours of bribery and bungs surface, the FIFA ethics committee tells INSIDER that no potential ethics violations have been brought before the investigatory chamber.

“There are no new developments and the chamber has not opened formal investigations into any of the candidates,” a spokesman said.

Earlier this week, Sexwale of South Africa, whose lacklustre FIFA campaign has been fizzling out for weeks, told the BBC he had heard “rumours” of brown envelopes exchanging hands during the election campaign. “I hear rumours but so far no evidence on the desk,” he said.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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