KEIR RADNEDGE in MANCHESTER: The next president of FIFA should be the man (or woman) who is prepared to “take the locks off the doors and open the windows” according to Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, who harbours refreshed ambitions to do precisely that.
Prince Ali, still head of the Jordanian Football Association though no longer a member of the world federation’s executive committee, denied Blatter an outright first-round knockout at the election congress in Zurich. Four days further into his fifth term as president Blatter announced his intention to step down.
Would-be successors have until October 26 to rally at least five written nominations if they wish to be candidates next February back in Zurich. Prince Ali is almost cetain to confirm shortly his return to the fray.
In a wide-ranging discourse reviewing the FIFA battleground he reiterated his belief in the need for ‘a new beginning,’ for transparency which is ‘more than a slogan’ and for an end to anti-democratic intimidation from within the regional confederations.
He also criticised Blatter for not taking responsibility for scandal-scarred events under his presidency and quitting and derided the presidental ambitions of Michel Platini and Chung Mong-joon because they represented the old guard who had failed not only FIFA and football.
The Jordanian prince is an apparent voice in the wilderness within his own Asian confederation since its president, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, is a declared supporter of Platini. However Prince Ali has yet to decide whether to throw himself formally and officially into the debate over FIFA’s future.
He said: “I’m talking to national associations, listening to their opinions, what they see for the future and getting my own ideas. We need a candidate who is forward thinking, who will bring some new ideas and is not tainted by the past. So just stay tuned . . . not for very long.”
The need for reform – and, though he did not say it – one not directed by the confederations-stacked new committee created by Blatter, is paramount in Prince Ali’s thinking.
He said: “We have to change the entire way FIFA is run, conducted. Unfortunately we’ve lost a year in terms of reforming FIFA but hopefully and that’s disappointing but hopefully, come February, we can have a new beginning.
“We have to look to the future now and we have very little time. The whole world is watching and as much as people love the sport of football the reputation of FIFA is very poor and that’s a real shame.
“What is relevant is to look to the future and bring back the reputation of FIFA which is a challenge in itself but we have to do it.
“We have to take the locks off the doors and open the windows. There is no need for secrecy. People want to know what we are, who we are, how the money is spent, how much are paid and that is transparency and openness. It’s OK to ask for truly independent outside bodies to help us out in reforming the organisation and if we do that correctly we will get our sponsors much more excited.
“Sponsors are hesitant about FIFA and that’s a real shame. They should be fighting to be a part of football, a part of FIFA, because what they provide for us should go back into developing the sport across the world.”