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Prince Ali hopes for ‘real’ leader after Blatter

September 11, 2014

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein wants “real candidates” — focused on policy not personality — to run world football after Sepp Blatter leaves.

The 78-year-old Blatter confirmed this week that he will stand for a fifth, four-term term as president after saying a majority of football leaders told him to continue. Aside from Blatter disregarding a previous pledge to leave office in 2015, the potential lack of competitive election campaign is doing little to enhance FIFA’s credibility after years of corruption scandals and negative headlines.

“When you talk about elections, I would really would like — maybe it’s too late now — but in the future that it’s not based on personality but based on a mandate, based on evolving the organization,” Prince Ali of Jordan said in his Manchester hotel suite while at the SoccerEx conference.

“For me it’s a bit scary when I hear people sort of say that they are needed or they are not needed. In any walk of life. There is so much more that can be done. We need to talk about development in a proper way and grass roots.”

There was no ringing endorsement from Prince Ali for Blatter, only stating it was “fine” the Swiss official wants to extend a presidential reign that began in 1998.

“If I look at myself if there is any time I feel things are smooth and OK that’s the time I leave,” the prince said. “Give it to someone else, let other people have a chance, but anyway it’s obvious that it looks like Blatter will be back for the next four years.

“I’m looking down the line after four years to have some real candidates, real candidates who run on an agenda and a mandate. I have done that in Asia. I have tried my best to try to fulfil everything.”

But the prince’s own place on Blatter’s ruling committee could disappear next year. Under a rule-change approved in June, the Asian Football Confederation president — currently Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain — will also become the continent’s FIFA vice president from next year.

“According to the reasoning behind that was that it’s a matter of protocol,” said Prince Ali, who was elected as a FIFA vice president by the AFC Congress in 2011. “I don’t give a damn about protocol. I’m here for football.”

To remain on the FIFA executive committee, Prince Ali will stand for election for one of Asia’s seats next year.

“If I run for FIFA ExCo it does actually give me the opportunity to really concentrate on the world as a whole,” the prince said. “There has not been enough in terms of development in general in the grassroots. Even when you talk about match-fixing and so on there is a lot to do.”

Preserving the status quo under Blatter satisfies many in world football because FIFA generates more than $1 billion annually and has nearly $1.5 billion in reserves.

“Sometimes you hear from FIFA that things are going great,” Prince Ali said. “Money isn’t everything. You are for the whole world. You have to continuously evolve and move on.

“I think I can contribute ... I will stick with FIFA whether anyone likes it or not. Maybe some people were banking on the fact I would (disappear). I am not going to do that because I love the sport.”


Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

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