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Prince Ali warns FIFA catastrophe looms

06 January 2016, 06:40

London - Prince Ali bin al-Hussein warns that FIFA risks catastrophe unless he is elected president next month and entrusted with cleaning up an organization reeling from corruption charges.

"Everybody recognises this is the last chance in February to get it right. Otherwise things will happen maybe in a different way," the Jordanian royal, among five candidates vying to succeed President Sepp Blatter, said on Tuesday.

"We don't want a situation where two years down the line or a year down the line, again more scandals come out."

Prince Ali was on the executive committee from 2011-15, sitting alongside several men indicted by American prosecutors and/or banned by FIFA.

The prince was beaten in May's presidential election by Blatter, who announced his resignation the following week in the wake of criminal investigations into FIFA, then was banned from soccer last month.

"This is an incredibly important moment for the future of the organisation, in the upcoming election," the prince said. "It would be a catastrophe for the organization if things do not go in the right way."

The prince was considered the front-runner until Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al Khalifa declared his candidacy. While the Bahraini sheikh wants to be a non-executive president and disperse power, Prince Ali maintains Blatter's successor must by a "hands-on" leader in complete control.

"If you are the president of the organisation, you have to take responsibility for that organization," the prince said in a London briefing when asked about Sheikh Salman's plan. "I have seen in the past at FIFA, this whole idea of blaming others for what happens in the organisation. So I don't want this organization to go to a new level of irresponsibility."

Prince Ali published an updated manifesto that envisages presidents being restricted to a pair of four-year terms, preventing someone matching the 17-year reign of Blatter and the 24 years in power of his predecessor, Joao Havelange.

FIFA's 209 members will vote on whether to adopt three-term limits on Feb. 26, the same day as the presidential vote. Prince Ali would have to ask a later congress to adopt even shorter limits.

"Two is enough," he said. "You have to be hard-working and that includes the president. ... You have to be dedicated to roll up your sleeves and work on the ground for the benefit of 209 member associations."

The prince's challenge is building on the 73 votes he gained in May's election, but likely cannot rely on the support of Europe this time.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino has been backed by Europe's governing body in a candidacy prompted by the suspension imposed by FIFA on his boss, Michel Platini.

Platini was banned for eight years along with Blatter last month over a 2 million Swiss franc payment the UEFA president received from FIFA in 2011 for work supposedly carried out up to nine years earlier without a written contract.

"Everything has to be obviously on the books," the prince said. "In this day and age, to have an oral agreement is totally irresponsible. ... You have to be open. It has to be accountable."

Expanding on that theme, the prince wants votes at the congress to be transparent, so the world can see which nation voted for a president or World Cup host. The current rules call for a secret ballot.

"I am determined that we save FIFA and do it from within," he said.

The prince is in Britain trying to gain the backing of the four home nations - England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland - along with Ireland.

"There is a moral aspect to English football and the positions they have taken in the past," he said. "I really would be keen on getting their support, particularly at this stage as I had in the last election."

- AP


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