WELLINGTON, January 22 – FIFA presidential contender Prince Ali bin al Hussein said Friday he was “fully confident” of winning the corruption-plagued organisation’s leadership ballot next month, provided the vote is clean.
The Jordanian crown prince, one of five candidates seeking to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter, said the February 26 election represented FIFA’s one chance to restore football’s tarnished reputation.
He called for a more transparent world governing body, reiterating his criticism of a development deal between the Asian and African confederations that he sees as creating a voting bloc for one of his rivals.
“It’s very obvious with the timing that, for whatever reason, it’s wrong to be making these sorts of deals,” he told reporters in Auckland.
However, Prince Ali said his campaign was still gaining momentum as he criss-crosses the globe shoring up support.
He secured votes from 73 of FIFA’s 209 member associations during a failed attempt to topple Blatter last year and said his numbers had since improved.
“I can tell you from my side that I’m fully confident I will win this if things are conducted properly,” he said.
“I think around the (footballing) world that a weight has been taken off people’s shoulders, they want to be proud of being part of this organisation again.
“Without going into specifics, I’m building on what I had the last time around.”
Blatter and FIFA vice-president Michel Platini were suspended for eight years last month over irregular payments, while a US inquiry which has left 39 individuals and two companies facing charges over bribes for football deals.
– Mood for change –
Prince Ali said the best way for FIFA to ensure it was clean was to open the books to proper scrutiny.
“That’s what we need to do from now on in FIFA in terms of all aspects of the organisation whether it’s our financial situation — salaries for example, or World Cup bids — that’s what the world deserves,” he said.
Ali said FIFA was currently so secretive that even he did not know how much the body’s president was paid.
He said that while a salary was necessary for the organisation’s leader, if he was elected he would donate the money to development projects.
“For me personally, I would probably put it into charity but that’s my own personal choice,” he said declining to specify how much he thought the salary should be.
Prince Ali said FIFA “has a lot of good people” who needed the right leadership to restore its tattered reputation.
The 40-year-old said he had earned his reformist credentials by opposing Blatter when the Swiss was at the height of his power and now sensed a widespread mood for change.
“I served on the executive committee of FIFA for four years and it was a real challenge — I was the rebel in the room,” he said.
“I decided ‘look, there are two options, either I leave this organisation or I fight for football’.
“I love the sport and that’s what I did, that’s why I ran for the presidency… I intend to finish off what I started.”