KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Restoring a World Cup rotation system and studying a reallocation of the number of slots for each confederation are two of the specific proposals listed by Prince Ali of Jordan in his FIFA presidential election manifesto.
The Asian vice-president of the world football federation has been forced, by political manoeuvres against him within the AFC, to challenge Sepp Blatter for the leadership of the world game if he is to stay at its top table beyond FIFA Congress on May 29.
He is the only non-European among the four candidates expected to be ratified by the electorial committee studying the nominations submitted ahead of Thursday night’s deadline. Splitting the European vote will be Dutch federation president Michael Van Praag and former Portugal captain Luis Figo. The remaining hopeful is French former FIFA official Jerome Champagne.
The danger for Prince Ali bin Al Hussein is that his prospects will be severely weakened by European federations’ likely voting preference for one of their own ie Van Praag or Figo.
Prince Ali has followed up his candidacy submission with the unveiling of a sleek campaign website, worldsgame.com, which promotes his own background, mission and manifesto.
At the moment the website is long on progressive rhetoric and short on specific, practical proposals. However Prince Ali insists that he will be developing his ideas over the next weeks and months as he meets football officials around the world and will then “post a detailed manifesto.”
Few will argue with his mission statement that “the world’s game deserves a world-class governing body — an international federation that is a service organisation and a model of ethics, transparency and good governance.”
The toxicity of FIFA’s reputation, after the ISL and World Cup bid scandals, prompted even Blatter to launch a modest reform programme in 2011. But even the flagship introduction of a twin-chamber ethics system was submerged beneath worldwide derision after the chaos prompted by investigator Michael Garcia’s report into the 2018-2022 World Cup awards.
Hence Prince Ali insisted: “I am seeking the presidency of FIFA because I believe it is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport. The headlines should be about football, not about FIFA.”
Achieving that, along with greater transparency, would involve “a more collegiate and open approach to governance with a consultative decision-making process [with] more decision-making power to the regional confederations and national associations.”
Greater transparency and a will to make “executive decision-making a genuine team effort” may not go down too well with some of Prince Ali’s long-serving colleagues on the current FIFA exco or his revolutionary suggestion that the world federation should “embrace constructive criticism.”
Prince Ali even said he wanted to “improve FIFA’s relations with international media” which will be another frightening prospect for some members of the old guard.
Finally, in a note aimed to elicit sympathy in the non-European constituency he promised “a proper review of the FIFA World Cup format and the places available to the respective confederations” and the creation of “a formal continental rotation system.”