AUCKLAND: Prince Ali has reiterated his warning that next month’s reforms-and-election congress is the last chance for world football federation FIFA to set itself back on the straight and narrow writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The Jordanian federation president stood unsuccessfully against now-banned Sepp Blatter last May and is one of five candidates aiming to remain standing by the time the election stage is set in Zurich next February 26.

Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, while campaigning in New Zealand, said: “FIFA is in a critical situation right now and we need to fix that. We have one chance coming in February. I believe we have wasted a year and we need to get it right.

“FIFA’s reputation has suffered dramatically and that has affected everything. There is a real desire to get things back on track. We need to reverse the pyramid, put the priorities of our players and fans on top and turn FIFA into a service organisation.”

Prince Ali was in the country to meet New Zealand Football board members, since NZF publicly had supported him last May.

He said: “I was very honoured to have the support of New Zealand the last time around. It is very important to be here, to have talked to members of your board.”

World Cup issue

Prince Ali also indicated that Oceania should receive direct entry into the World Cup, instead of suffering the current play-off against another confederation. Blatter had appeared to make that promise before his election last year then forgot it.

“I’m totally against the idea of a half slot,” said Prince Ali, running in a context which appears bound to move the World Cup, perhaps as soon as 2026, to a 40-team finals.

He added: “The half slot is a real challenge not just for Oceania but also for Asia, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF.”

Prince Ali said that, in his opinion the subject was not a key election issue, however many voting federations will think differently.

He explained: “We have to look [at] how things are conducted within FIFA in terms of how decisions are made. [There is] room for enlarging the World Cup but that subject should not be brought up by a reform committee or during a presidential campaign.”

Prince Ali was also positive about his own prospects, albeit with one caveat.

He said: “I can tell you from my side that I’m fully confident I will win this if things are conducted properly.

“I think around the (footballing) world that a weight has been taken off people’s shoulders, they want to be proud of being part of this organisation again . . . I’m building on what I had the last time around.”