LONDON: FIFA’s development funding is nothing to be proud about, according to presidential challenger Prince Ali of Jordan writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The world federation makes great public play of the money spread annually around the 209 national associations and the $1.052bn devoted in 2011-14 to worldwide development.

However this was only 20pc of its expenditure and Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and his fellow two challengers to Sepp Blatter in the forthcoming election – Michael Van Praag and Luis Figo – have all said as much.

Prince Ali, FIFA’s outgoing Asian vice-president, complained to UEFA Congress in Vienna on Tuesday that “many FAs around the world still do not have their basic needs met such as kits, pitches and infrastructure.”

Later he expanded on the theme, suggesting that FIFA’s development work would be much more effective with greater local involvement.

Regional staff

He said: “Development is crucial but I think the approach to it is incorrect. FIFA needs to have regional staff on the ground to implement projects.

“That’s the only way. It is a reality that many national associations around the world – and I’ve seen it with my own eyes in Asia – have to ask for the support of FIFA but it’s a bit like a drip feed system.

“Projects have to be implemented, not for the sake of projects but for the sake of improvement. There is a big lack of input in FIFA regarding local needs.

“I cannot that an organisation with the wealth that it is has does not yet guarantee that every single national association has the basics. It’s not that difficult. You look at the Caribbean, they have real physical challenges, again in Asia, the same in Africa.”

Prince Ali was also concerned that the number of slots per region at future World Cups will be decided at a meeting of the FIFA executive committee, with up to seven new members, the day after the election congress.

He said: “I am very worried that candidates can use that for political manoeuvring without having a real, proper, healthy, studied debate. I do have this feeling that it is to appeal to people just for the sake of votes. We cannot afford to make mistakes that have happened in the past.

“It is very irresponsible during an election year to make promises based on simple need to appeal to voters.

“There is nothing I have ever done in football where I have made a promise that I have not delivered, and I’m not going to play that game of making promises which I cannot deliver the day after.”

Princve Ali has promised to publish next month a detailed programme of presidential manifesto proposals based on discussions he has held with football leaders around the world over the last few months.