Fight for an open FIFA

By Lu Wen'ao Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-23 0:23:01

Prince Ali discusses campaign for presidency

Prince Ali reacts in an interview with the Global Times on Tuesday in Beijing. Photo: Li Hao/GT

FIFA presidential hopeful Prince Ali bin Hussein has promised to clear ­soccer's scandal-wracked governing body with his proposals and remains confident that he will win the organization's February election.

In an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Tuesday, the Jordanian soccer chief said his confidence is based on knowledge of how things are going on the ground.

"I've always been consistent, I only care about the sport. I've been traveling around the world, talking to different confederations," Prince Ali said. "You need to learn what's happening on the ground ... I'm not the type behind the desk, I want to roll up our sleeves and be on the ground. That's my style."

FIFA has been beleaguered by a series of scandals since May, with 14 FIFA officials and sports marketing executives facing indictment by prosecutors for bribery.­

The recent bans imposed by FIFA's ethics committee on FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA head Michel Platini mark a new low point for the organization.

Prince Ali declined to comment on the much-discussed topic, but noted that "everybody has the right to defend themselves."

"My focus is on the future of FIFA, to have a new way of doing things. I think it's very important to have an open and transparent FIFA. We have to unlock the doors and open the windows, because it ­governs the most popular sport in the world."

Prince Ali was elected as ­FIFA's vice-president in 2011 and was also a member of the executive committee, but he left these roles after losing his challenge to Blatter's re-election by 133-73 votes.

"I realized the only way to do it was to become president … I love the sport, so I need to fight for the future," he said. He added that if he becomes president, he would like to bring an end to Zurich's habit of "dictating what's happening."

"We (FIFA) need to have the opposite, to have a service organization, with the players and national associations on the top of the ­pyramid."

Asian power

He faces opposition from Asian soccer chief President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim­ al Khalifa of Bahrain, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino of Switzerland, former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale in the ­election. FIFA is yet to have a president from an Asian country.

In regard to China's soccer ­conditions, highlighted lately by Guangzhou Evergrande's fourth-place finish in the Club World Cup alongside continuous underachievement by the Chinese national soccer team, Prince Ali noted that grass-roots efforts and development should be the major focus of any country's soccer campaign.

"It's all important, you can't have one thing at the expense of another," Prince Ali said. "But with national teams, it's very important to do grass-roots focus. It takes time, but you have to do it from the beginning." He also noted that he is "certain" that "sooner or later, China will win the World Cup."

He will also try to introduce a "scholarship" program aiming to bring former players back to the business as coaches to help countries and organizations who need practical experience developing the sport.

"Players' careers are short, relatively. FIFA can pay for the former players to come to other parts of the world to give experiences," Prince Ali said. "I want to create a system so we can take our local coaches, attach them to clubs ... through that way they will get the real hands on experience, and then they can hand over and do the same thing."

Posted in: Feature, Soccer

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