AMMAN: Prince Ali of Jordan has said that former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, now 77, will head a reform oversight group if he wins the FIFA presidency next week writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

One of the most insistent demands of critics of the world football federation has been the need for a respected outsider to come in and help lead it out of the current morass of scandal and corruption.

Ghanaian Annan led the UN between January 1997 and December 2006 and he and the organisation were co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.”

Prince Ali, who lost last year’s election to Sepp Blatter, is one of the five candidate hoping to succeed the disgraced and banned Swiss official at an extraordinary congress in Zurich next Friday.

On the day when the Asian confederation urged unanimous regional support for Sheikh Salkman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Jordan’s Prince Ali stepped up his campaign to attract disaffected neighbours as well as further support from around the world.

A statement said that, if elected, he would create an independent oversight group comprising “a highly prominent group of individuals who are renowned for their integrity, knowledge of governance, diplomacy and sport.”

Reform process

It added: “The group will be led by Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, to help steer FIFA through its first year to recover from crisis and to support the future reform process.”

Initially it will assist in devising the best ways to enacting the reforms which are likely to be approved by FIFA Congress immediately before the presidential election.

Other members with whom the oversight group has been discussed have included Ernesto Zedillo (former President of Mexico), Catherine Bertini (formerly executive director of the World Food Programme) as well as Rick Parry (ex-ceo of the English Premier League and then Liverpool).

Prince Ali said: “The FIFA Oversight Group will serve as the safest possible pair of hands to put FIFA back on track. It is an essential element to revive FIFA’s reputation and restore it to what it should be – a service organisation for football.

“I believe that this group will be able to provide a truly interactive and participatory process for the FA’s and give them the ownership and the chance to work with the fairest and most distinguished people the world has to offer.

“The group will guide the Presidency just as it will guide the FAs of FIFA. Having the commitment of a group of people with such impeccable credentials, unquestioned integrity and global standing represents an unprecedented response to the unprecedented crisis sweeping FIFA.”