I N T E R V I E W b y K E I R R A D N E D G E
** Prince Ali of Jordan has lined himself with fellow FIFA vice-president Michel Platini in endorsing the idea of staging Qatar’s 2022 World Cup in the winter. Platini’s proposal was a surprise, given the upheaval such a switch would cause European’s Big Five league. But Prince Ali comes from a different direction as the Asian Football Confederation’s senior representative on the FIFA executive committee.
He took up that role in the spring of last year after ousting Chung Mong-joon of South Korea in a highly-political election. Prince Ali has a particular knowledge of not only the 2022 issue but a wide range of other international concerns.
Should the 2022 World Cup in Qatar be staged in the winter?
I wasn’t involved in deciding where the World Cup should be hosted so I don’t know what happened. Having said that, let’s look at what makes sense and, sure, if the Qataris want to do it in summer they can I suppose.
But, in my personal opinion as a football fan, it would be more conducive to do it in winter both weather wise for the fans and also for money to be invested in other things – such as development in the region – rather than on cooling equipment.
I’m saying this not for any other reason but for what is most practical and I see no reason why not. In the Europe they have a winter break for the players and if UEFA is OK with it then why not?
Obviously, both FIFA and Qatar have to think seriously about what the future is. There has to be a serious decision made soon and they have to think it through.
Is the FIFA reform process moving fast enough?
I am optimistic that it will go through. Just looking at some of the names on the different committees I’m quite optimistic that they will do the right thing . . . what’s more important than anything else is that the reforms are implemented and – if I have any place to kick in – it would be to guarantee that whatever reforms are decided on will be enacted properly.
What about the International Football Association Board and the gentle invitation to reform itself?
Every organisation should have, if not revolution, than continual evolution within itself. It’s an institution for which I have tremendous respect. In a way it complements FIFA and is a check and a balance and with any organisation you need that so I don’t know what the big deal is.
Maybe it’s a bit too conservative but sometimes you need a gatekeeper and from my own personal expererience – for example with the headscarf issue – I thought the members were completely correct and right and open to understanding of the real issues.
UEFA president Platini said the problem with IFAB was not the four British votes but the fact that FIFA president Sepp Blatter wields all the four FIFA votes without any discussion among the executive committee. Do you agree?
I wouldn’t entirely disagree with that. With the headscarf [at IFAB] I went there to present a case but I wasn’t invited to vote and, at the last IFAB meeting on the issue, I wasn’t invited at all – which, to me, was a bit strange.
At the end of the day, however, they have this system and maybe it is a bit of a check that FIFA votes as a block. I can understand that. It doesn’t matter so much what the process is; what matters is that the conclusion is to the benefit of the game.
Last year in Tokyo I did ask the FIFA executive committee to vote on the headscarf issue and the response was: ‘We’ll just leave it to IFAB,’ so maybe that’s just the reality of it.
South-east Asia has been recognised as the heart of the gambling culture which has enabled criminal corporations to undertake matchfixing around the world. What are the Asian football authorities doing about that?
Matchfixing is a huge concern for all of us and not only in Asia. You get different confed or countries which say: ‘OK, we’ve cleaned up our own act,’ but that’s not enough. It really is a global issue.
I think FIFA has made a lot of good partnerships, as with Interpol, but I think there is still not enough investment in combating matchfixing and corruption. That department needs a lot more support.
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