Prince Ali says fans want Blatter out
Football fans around the globe want FIFA leader Sepp Blatter to quit now and let an independent commission reform world football’s scandal-tainted governing body, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who could run for president, told AFP.
The Jordanian prince, a former FIFA vice president, remains a fierce opponent of UEFA boss Michel Platini’s FIFA candidacy. But he is still sounding out football leaders before deciding whether to launch a new bid.
Blatter has said he will stand down when an election is held on February 26, but Prince Ali said the FIFA leader’s proposed reform task force, mainly named by regional confederations, is doomed.
“It has to be done with a new president. I don’t think that they can do it in such a short period of time,” said the 39-year-old prince.
“I also believe that you have to have a real independent task force come in and help the situation and help implement it.”
Prince Ali said quick reforms are crucial but was adamant that Blatter, engulfed in the storm over bribery charges in the United States against seven FIFA officials and seven sports business executives, must leave now.
“I don’t think that anyone who has been involved in the past should remain. They cannot be a part of that process,” the prince said by telephone from Amman. Following the allegations that more than $150 million was given in bribes “people have to take responsibility and they have to step aside”.
“You need to have new blood, new ideas. That’s a given and that’s clearly a demand of the entire world, from football fans across the globe.”
FIFA has said an independent personality will head the proposed 10-person task force. Francois Carrard, a former International Olympic Committee director general, has been approached but he has not yet given an answer. Critics say the task force will lack credibility as the other members will all be named by FIFA’s six member confederations.
– Nothing personal –
French football legend Platini is considered favourite to win the FIFA election, but the prince said he was the wrong person to change world football. “The practice of backroom, under-the-table deals must end,” the prince said in a strongly worded statement when Platini announced his campaign.
“I have total respect for him as a player and also as UEFA president,” the prince told AFP.
“I worked with him, we had our agreements, disagreements. It is nothing personal at all, but I don’t believe that he is the right person to do the reforms for FIFA right now. You have to have fresh people in there and he has been part of that system.”
The prince said he had listened to Platini’s proposals but did not consider it strong enough to change FIFA.
The prince and Platini have both called for the publication of Michael Garcia’s report into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar.
He said the secrecy surrounding the report was “emblematic of the problems within the organisation”.
The malaise has spread to key sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonalds who were to hold a summit with FIFA in August. “I have talked to sponsors and heard from them, just as everybody else who cares for the game, I think everybody is concerned about the situation” the prince said.
– Hell of a lot of money –
Prince Ali stood against Blatter in an election this year. He said his role in the looming election is not yet decided even if FIFA observers say he wants to enter.
“Honestly right now I am just talking with colleagues, listening to them, hearing their opinions and seeing where they want things to go. It is never about who is president it is about getting the right people in who can do the job.”
He stood against Blatter on a platform of reform and giving more resources to national federations.
“You can’t have an organisation which governs the most popular sport in the world that has the reputation that it has right now. That clearly has to change and then from there we have to do a lot more in terms of listening to national associations,” he said.
The prince said FIFA should be spending up to 80 percent of the five billion dollars-plus it earns every four years on stadiums and equipment for the 209 member federations.
“That’s where FIFA can serve. I think they can give a hell of a lot more back — excuse my language.”