GENEVA - FIFA presidential candidate, Prince Ali Al Hussein of Jordan, warns the organization will no longer be able to credibly govern world football if it does not clean up its act and expunge corruption from its midst.
FIFA’s long-serving president, Sepp Blatter was forced to step down after the organization he led for 17 years became mired in scandal last year. A new president will be chosen on February 26 from a list of five candidates.
Prince Ali Al Hussein, who is in the running, says the election will be FIFA’s last chance to turn its back on the shame and turmoil of the past and turn a new page. He warns business as usual is no longer possible. He says a real and visible change in the culture of the organization must take place to ward off the worst.
“If we do not do that, the outside forces that have already affected FIFA will only grow stronger. Governments will step up their investigations, more sponsors will walk away and more revenue will be lost," said Al Hussein.
The United States has indicted 14 officials and associates of FIFA on wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering charges. In a separate action, Swiss authorities have launched a criminal inquiry into FIFA’s controversial awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
Prince Ali says his reform plan will turn FIFA into a transparent, ethical, and democratic organization that is accountable to governments, associations and the public.
For starters, he says he will propose a limit of two four-year consecutive terms for FIFA president and members of the executive committee. He says he will disclose top salaries. If elected president, he says he will immediately contact the Swiss and U.S. attorney Generals to offer cooperation to reach a swift conclusion to their investigations.
He says FIFA under his presidency would no longer be ruled by fear and intimidation.
“Let me tell you what happens when you do not go with the recognized powers in FIFA. Development projects mysteriously stall. Tournament hosting bids are suddenly compromised or withdrawn. National teams start to mysteriously face less favorable fixtures and even referees. All of these are effective ways to punish member associations that fail to demonstrate political loyalty," he said.
Prince Ali says FIFA’s 209 members know the organization is in crisis. He says the presidential election on February 26 is critical as it will determine whether a small group of powerful individuals will hold FIFA hostage.