AMSTERDAM: Dutch football federation president Michael Van Praag wrapped up his campaign for the FIFA presidency with the following statement:
The last few months have been an absolutely exhilarating experience for me. I am profoundly grateful for being granted the opportunity to speak to so many heads of football associations about our wonderful sport. To visit so many congresses of football federations. So many different countries, with so many different needs. But one thing stood out, one thing was agreed upon in every corner of the world: FIFA needs to change.
My motivation to run for the presidency was never because I wanted to change functions, I am perfectly happy where I am right now. But I felt – and I still feel – that FIFA needs to do better. And that it is impossible that FIFA moves forward with its current leadership. This is why I decided to challenge mister Blatter.
We need change in governance, in leadership, and in the culture of FIFA. We need to embrace criticism as an encouragement to be better. We need to be transparent and answer to the highest ethical standards. We need to get back to normal, to serve the sport and the member states instead of ourselves.
You know the proposals that I have made to accomplish these things, as I am sure that you have studied the programs of my fellow challengers.
As several media already reported – hats off to those journalists – the three of us have sat down to discuss the remainder of the campaign. This campaign was always about the need to bring football forward and improve FIFA. And it still is. This is why the three of us sat down to discuss our chances.
I have the support of many European countries and many more from all over the world. As we all do. So we decided to put our cards on the table.
Because we also concluded that we believe – as do practically all key players in the world – that one single candidate would have a bigger chance to win the election. Prince Ali Al Hussein convincingly demonstrated that at this moment in time, he is the candidate who has the biggest chance to challenge Sepp Blatter.
So I offered Prince Ali Al Hussein that I was willing to withdraw my candidacy if he was willing to adopt some of the key elements of my program. I do believe that he is the one candidate who has the largest chance to mobilize enough votes to beat mister Blatter, but I also stand for my program, so I had to ensure that – even if I decided not to run – the program for which I stand would find its way into the program of the final running candidate.
His Royal Highness responded enthusiastically and embraced proposals such as the President’s Board.
This means that the future president of FIFA has less power to decide unilaterally and important decisions will be taken in cooperation with the presidents of the confederations.
Also, the Prince gave his support to my proposals to include human rights in the bidding procedure for future World Cups and he promised to actively combat discrimination of ethnic and sexual minorities.
Finally, the Prince also agreed to limit the maximum amount of presidency terms to two and to quadruple the yearly allowance to member states.
As I already said, this campaign never was about me finding another job. I am perfectly happy with my current position. It was about improving the sport. I see this move in the campaign as the next step in the battle for a better FIFA. Since the start of this campaign I have stressed that my motivation to run for President was to prepare FIFA for the next generation. They deserve a fair, modern and better FIFA.
After speaking to my team and my board within the Royal Netherlands Football Association, several conversations with the Prince and the negotiations about our programs, I believe that the next generation is already prepared and ready to take over.
I wholeheartedly support the Prince in his endeavour and ask from the member states that already promised me their support to vote for mister Ali Al Hussein in the upcoming elections, to truly accomplish football for everyone.
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