KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: Former United States President Jimmy Carter has thrown his weight behind Prince Ali of Jordan’s bid to win the presidency of world football federation FIFA.

Carter, who had led election monitoring and observer missions to a string of nations around the world, has described Prince Ali bin Al Hussein as the candidate with “credibility, commitment and the right values.”

Prince Ali is one of five contenders bidding to succeed disgraced and banned Sepp Blatter at the head of football’s governing body in Friday’s election here in Zurich. Last year Prince Ali embarrassed Blatter by denying the veteran Swiss administrator a knockout first round victory.

The first part of the extraordinary congress will deal with a package of reform proposals whose endorsement by at least 75pc of voters is essential to protect FIFA from the wrath of Swiss and United States judicial authorites.

Then comes the election about whose transparent proceedings Prince Ali is already challenged FIFA organisers at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Carter, in a statement issued from Atlanta, said: “The election of a new FIFA president is a critical opportunity for the international sports federation to begin a badly needed process of reform.

“The first test of FIFA’s ability to reform itself will be how the presidential election is conducted. As someone who has worked to bring fairness to elections around the world, I am concerned about reports that the sanctity of the secret ballot may be compromised in the FIFA election process.

“A secret ballot is essential for ensuring that voters are guided solely by their conscience and are not influenced by external pressure. A transparent voting booth that would make it impossible for voters to photograph or otherwise record their selection is the only way to ensure ballot secrecy.

“The second test of FIFA’s commitment to reform is the outcome of the election. FIFA needs a president with credibility, commitment and the right values to lead it out of its current crisis. I believe that someone is Prince Ali.”