LONDON: FIFA presidential hopeful Prince Ali has urged potential supporters to set aside the politics of fear within the world football federation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The former Asian vice-president of FIFA was addressing members of the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in central London today.

Less than 24 hours earlier he had confirmed the launch of his latest attempt to gain the top job in world football after being defeated by Sepp Blatter in May; four days later Blatter decided to step down and a successor is to be elected at an extraordinary congress next February 26.

Prince Ali warned his audience both at Chatham House and the wider world: “FIFA is in danger. The future of football is in danger and if we do not act now it may be too late. Without an intact governing body we will have nothng, we will get nothing and go nowhere.

“The beautiful game cannot save the governing body from itself any longer.”

‘Virtuous circle’

He regretted that he and other recently elected members of the FIFA executive committee had been swimming against the tide of a corrupt culture in trying to promote reform from within.

Hence the forthcoming election was not only about “choosing a committed, qualified and trustworthy president but also about choosing a future for the sport and for FIFA.”

He promised: “If I am elected I will deliver a virtuous circle of development and commercial success serviced by a FIFA which is a service organisation with the highest standard of ethics and integrity and which works according to a strategic plan rather than presidential whim.”

First, however, Prince Ali needed to be elected. For that he needed a “clean process” free of dirty tricks, back-room deals and manipulation. He also derided the danger of intimidation of federation presidents dependent on the financial patronage on offer through FIFA’s development programme.

He said: “A lot of people are very reliant on FIFA and there is always the fear that if there is a change that they might lose some support and, behind closed doors, there are people who feed that and they do intimidate and they do scare people.”

This time around any officials who, last May, had been “scared of making the change” should tae courage and do what “in their heart of hearts they know is right.”

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