KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON —- Prince Ali is back on the world stage. Not with a new joust for the presidency of FIFA but in going to the places the world federation cannot reach by taking his AFDP community development project global.

“There are no limits to what can be done,” he told a launch briefing in London at which his Asian Football Development Project evolved into the Association Football Development Project. Same letters, limitlessly greater outreach.

Prince Ali bin Al Hussein made world football headlines in becoming a FIFA vice-president on behalf of the Asian confederation in 2011 and then in playing a significant role in the downfall of Sepp Blatter and running twice in vain himself for the leadership of the world governing body.

Prince Ali bin Al Hussein in London for the launchWhile serving on the FIFA executive committee he witnessed the power of football as a tool for good in some of the most deprived communities across Asia.

Personal commitment

Hence his own personal investment in creating the original AFDP which has supported more than 30 community projects across the continent from the refugee camps in his own native Jordan to as far east as Cambodia.

Prince Ali, whose other football roles include presidencies of the Jordan FA and the West Asian Football Federation, explained that AFDP Global would make a difference by funding specific initiatives, making equipment donations and providing other material support.

It will also provide expert management guidance.

Operationally, AFDP Global will headed by ceo Jean-Francois Cecillon, a former senior manager of EMI and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Initial partnership work will include projects such as War Child Football Club (a programme devised by a charity for children affected by conflict), the UEFA Foundation For Children and Streetfootballworld. Supporters already signed up include the Spanish league LaLiga.

Prince Ali said: “I have always believed that football is much more than just a game and can be a force for uniting people in every country and context. I’ve seen how football shapes characters, creates leaders, and helps young people to overcome barriers and pursue their dreams and ambitions.

“One thing I learned while running for FIFA president was understanding the challenges facing football across the world. More and more companies are running CSR (corporate social responsibility) programmes and we hope to partner as many of them as possible. There are no limits to what can be done.
“For example, when I went into FIFA and asked about football and people with disabilities I was told: ‘It’s not our concern – that’s for the Special Olympics it’s not our business.’ I thought that was a shame.

“Through AFDP we are proud of the change that we have already achieved in Asia by using the transformative power of football – from watching children rebuild their confidence on the football pitch in the Jordanian refugee camp of Zaatari to making it possible for girls and boys in Malaysia to play football and take part in tournaments safely, to our successful campaign to overturn FIFA’s ban on girls and women wearing a headscarf.

“However, a global game requires a global organisation, and this seems like the right time to step up and expand our work so that we can deliver our vision of football transforming communities, wherever and whenever this may be needed.”