FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein will challenge incumbent Sepp Blatter for the presidency of soccer’s governing body.
“I am seeking the presidency of FIFA because I believe it is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport,” he said in a statement on the website of the Jordan Football Association, of which he is president.
Hussein, who is 39 years old, will face off against Blatter, who is widely expected to seek a fifth term as FIFA’s president. Blatter, 78, has run soccer’s governing body since 1998. Under his tenure, FIFA has grown, but has been accused of corruption and a lack of transparency.
In his statement, Ali alluded to some of those criticisms, saying, “The world’s game deserves a world-class governing body — an International Federation that is a service organization and a model of ethics, transparency and good governance.”
He added: “The headlines should be about football, not about Fifa.”
Ali is said to have the backing of UEFA, soccer’s governing body in Europe, and its chief, Michel Platini. A third candidate, former FIFA executive Jerome Champagne, is also running in the May 29 election.
But, as The Associated Press notes:
“FIFA member federations which elect the president in a secret ballot have also shown little desire to remove Blatter as they receive increasing shares of billion-dollar annual income from commercial deals tied to the world’s most-watched sports event.
Prince Ali did not specify which five of FIFA’s 209 members will nominate him for the presidency, as required before a January 29 deadline. He is likely to get support from much of Europe and parts of the Asian Football Confederation.
“However, he is far from certain to get a majority of support from the Asian confederation, which is led by Sheik Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain.”
The Jordanian prince’s announcement comes weeks after FIFA’s executive committee voted to release part of a 430-page confidential report produced by American lawyer Michael Garcia regarding the bidding process that awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and to Qatar in 2022. As we have previously reported, both those winning bids have been mired in controversy.
Garcia, who had been lobbying for the release of the entire, unedited report, resigned last month, and in a statement implied that FIFA’s leadership was incapable of making necessary changes to the organization’s policing of ethics.
Ali was one of several FIFA officials who called for the full report’s publication.