KEIR RADNEDGE in MANCHESTER: Michel Platini and Chung Mong-joon, the two heavyweights chasing the FIFA presidency, are yesterday’s men who cannot be trusted with football’s tomorrow.
That damning verdict on the French president of European federation UEFA and the South Korean honorary vice-president of the world federation was delivered by Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan at the Soccerex Global Convention at Manchester Central today.
Prince Ali failed in his bid to oust Sepp Blatter as FIFA president in May after having also been voted out of the Asian FIFA vice-presidency. But he demonstrated he was still up for a fight by his trenchant opinions on Platini and Chung.
Platini and most of Europe supported Prince Ali’s vain election bid in May but has since declared himself ready to stand at the extraordinary congress which will pick Blatter’s success next February 26. As for Chung, he was ousted in 2011 by Prince Ali after 17 years as Asia’s FIFA vice-president.
Prince Ali said today that the task of rescuing an rebuilding FIFA’s mud-splattered reputation could be achieved by someone with new ideas – and that ruled out the old guard.
He said: “When Dr Chung was our Asian vice-president I didn’t have much interaction with him – though I have worked very well in recent years with his nephew who is president of the South Korean FA.
“However the important thing [for FIFA] is to have new beginning and new ideas therefore any candidate who has been in the organisation for a long time is not what is needed.”
Prince Ali had no more time either for the Platini plan.
He said: “I have tremendous respect for Mr Platini both as a UEFA president and as a former football player but at the same time there is a difference between UEFA and FIFA.
“FIFA is in a crisis right now and we need a new beginning and whether, anybody likes it or not, Michel Platini’s introduction into football governance was as protege of Sepp Blatter. That’s a reality.
“I want a candidate who really believes in reform and in full transparency and who means it, not as a slogan.
“I’ve sat down with Michel Platini and listened to him and his ideas but I think it’s my responsibility to try to make sure that the future is different from the past and therefore I was not very encouraged. It’s nothing personal. It’s about the world game not about individuals.”
Prince Ali said the issue of the next president was not a matter of another European or a non-European. Talking in such terms would be discriminatory in any case.
“We need somebody who can bring back the reputation of the organisation, the confidence of sponsors and fans and players and who can maximise the potential of FIFA.”
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