Rumours are emerging that Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein has been persuaded to enter the race to become FIFA’s next President. Al-Hussein, who is currently Asia’s FIFA Vice-President would be the third candidate to step forward to challenge current FIFA Boss Sepp Blatter. Blatter is hoping to secure a fifth term as head of world football’s governing body but is still facing calls both inside and outside FIFA to step down.
Ali’s entrance into the Presidential race could spell the effective end of Sepp. The prince would be sure to win votes from the anti-Blatter section of European Executives, led by Michel Platini, the UEFA President. Platini has ruled himself out of the running for the position but has made it clear he will support any candidate running against Sepp.
Coupled with the European vote, Prince Ali could also expect to rely on the support of the majority of his West Asian compatriots. It is also understood that Ali could expect reasonable support from the CONCACAF region, with the US and a number of Caribbean nations known to have strong ties with the Jordanian.
Support from the Caribbean may increase this summer after Michel Platini pays a visit. It is understood the UEFA head plans to visit the region to strengthen UEFA’s ties there. There’s no reason to suspect Platini won’t also be canvassing votes.
Prince Ali’s tenure as Asia’s FIFA vice-president finishes at the end of next year and he has already made noises about seeking election to another Asian position on the FIFA Executive Committee. Two weeks ago he refused to speak to journalists at an informal meeting in Paris about the possibility of running for the AFC Presidency. His silence on the matter was remarkably out of character as he has become very well known recently for his vocal opinions on the need for reform in FIFA. Coupled with this he has openly discussed the need for FIFA to publish the controversial report about alleged wrongdoings in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
Should the Jordanian Prince run for FIFA President he’ll come up against Blatter and Jerome Champagne. It is also rumoured that Harold Mayne Nicholls, the former Chilean FA President and head of the FIFA Inspection Team for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Bids is considering running against Blatter.
At an informal meeting in Paris two weeks ago Prince Ali told the press that FIFA’s reputation can only be restored when public opinion wasn’t against the President. More attention should be paid on the playing of football and not the politics of it.
Should Prince Ali decide to run in next May’s election, Sepp Blatter may struggle to win his fifth term in charge. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of opinion.
Conor Heffernan, Pundit Arena.