DAKAR: FIFA presidential contender Prince Ali of Jordan believes that he can save the world football federation and that Africa will have a vital role to play in the future.

Prince Ali bin Al Hussein is one of five contenders aiming to succeed Sepp Blatter as president in February’s election, with all candidates emphasising their commitment to reforming football’s governing body.

“Football is the most popular sport in the world. The reputation of the organisation is opposite. We can change this and the election on February 26 is crucial,” Prince Ali said in a visit to Senegal capital Dakar.

“We cannot have a secretive organisation. We have to be open in words and in deeds. People have to have faith in us.

“My fear is if we do not get this right, there are a lot of people out there calling to change FIFA, to have a different organisation.

“But I believe the opposite – we must save it”.

‘Incredible’ potential

Prince Ali, lacking formal support from the Asian confederation, needs to find votes elsewhere, hence the significance of reaching out to Africa with 54 votes.

He said: “Africa is crucial for what we want to do, to develop football. We need to develop infrastructure, the stadiums, the teams. The potential is absolutely incredible.

“The moment has come for Africa to play a leadership role. This coming election is critical.

“It’s time now for one of us from the developing nations to reach the presidency to make the changes we need.”

The other candidates are UEFA general secretary, Gianni Infantino, Asian football president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa (Bahrain), Jerome Champagne (France) and and Tokyo Sexwale (South Africa).