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Prince Ali says FIFA faces ‘catastrophe’ without true reform

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Part of Sportingintelligence’s guide to the 2016 FIFA presidential election: HOME PAGE here

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By James Corbett

5 January 2016

FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali Bin Hussein has warned the organisation faces ‘catastrophe’ if FIFA’s congress makes the wrong decision when meeting to elect a new president next month.

Speaking at the launch of his manifesto, an updated version of the document he produced ahead of his failed bid to win the presidency last May, Ali said that the organisation was facing a final opportunity to reform itself. He hinted it is heading for the abyss if congress fails to elect a candidate who will change FIFA’s modus operandi.

‘It would be a catastrophe if things do not go the right way,’ he warned. ‘This is the last chance in February to get it right.’

He added that the first task of his presidency would be to open up FIFA’s records for scrutiny and said that member associations wanted a ‘straight person’ to lead it.

‘Whatever happens you are still going to have those 209 member associations,’ he said. ‘They want to feel proud again of being part of that organisation.

‘Only by having full disclosure can you go back to sponsors and so on [with credibility].’

Prince Ali said that he would immediately publish the Garcia Report into the 2018-2022 World Cup bid race, but would not be drawn when asked if a further fully independent inquiry would be launched if that report proved unsatisfactory.

A summary of the Garcia report, published by Hans Joachim Eckert in November 2014, provoked strong criticism as well as the resignation of the then ethics chief Michael Garcia, after it exonerated Russia and Qatar and traduced two whistleblowers.

Manifesto pledges

Prince Ali’s revised manifesto, available as a PDF here, provided plenty of pledges for increased transparency aimed at rebuilding trust in FIFA, but was ultimately short on detail of organisational reform. This was despite his observation that existing FIFA reform proposals remain ‘very vague’.

His pledges include two-term limits for the FIFA President and Executive Committee (ExCo) members, and disclosure of everything from ExCo meeting minutes and the Garcia Report to salaries of senior officials. Perhaps most eye-catching is the pledge to quadruple Financial Assistance Payments to FIFA’s 209 member associations to $1 million.

Prince Ali was clear that poor leadership and nepotism had stymied FIFA’s potential and said that it needed an administrative overhaul in order to create a ‘more dynamic’ organisation.

In an apparent swipe at Sheikh Salman, who has advocated a l’aissez faire approach to the presidency, he said FIFA still needed an executive presidency. ‘If you are president of an organisation you have to take responsibility.’

After talking briefly about the organisational audit of the AFC that he initiated after the fall of Mohamed Bin Hammam in 2011, Ali was asked by Sportingintelligence what he made of Salman’s reputation for transparency since becoming AFC president two years later. These include the reported award without tender  of a rights agreement to World Sports Group, a company with close links to Bin Hammam’s disgraced regime. 

Ali sighed and ducking the question, answered: ‘What I will tell you in general is what I have learned at FIFA and in football in general are that promises made are often not seen through and I want to be the catalyst to change that. I will fulfil them. That’s what footballing world deserves. We have to do it.’

Earlier on Tuesday, Ali met Damien Collins MP of the reform group #NewFIFANow and said that it was ‘very refreshing to see someone who sees things in the same way.’

Despite this Ali’s aides confirmed that he will be unable to attend a planned meeting of presidential candidates at the European Parliament in Brussels on 27 January having accepted a previous invitation to address the Parliament the following day.

Instead Ali will be appearing at the CONMEBOL Awards ceremony in Asuncion on the same day before flying directly to Brussels.

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2013-05-28 11:34:43