Saturday,18 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)
Saturday,18 August, 2018
Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

A prince who wants to be king

Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, who seeks to become the next president of FIFA, told a group of Egyptian journalists what he plans to do to reform football’s world governing body. Inas Mazhar was there

Prince Ali
Prince Ali
Al-Ahram Weekly

The Jordanian Prince Ali, who is president of the Jordan Football Association and vice-president of FIFA, is running for the FIFA presidency against the reigning President Joseph Blatter, who is gunning for a fifth term. Portuguese former Player of the Year Luis Figo and the Dutch football chief Michael van Praag are the two other candidates for football’s top job.

Prince Ali’s campaign manifesto, entitled ‘A FIFA Worthy of the World’s Game’, details specific pledges to transform FIFA into a service organisation that is a model of good governance and ethical conduct.

Launching his election manifesto at a round-table discussion in Cairo on Monday, Prince Ali told the select media group that he was in Cairo to pay a visit to the Egyptian Football Association and monitor the African Confederation Congress meetings.

“In football, we are linked to Egypt and we can’t forget how the late Mahmoud Al-Gohari had contributed to the development of Jordanian football and later the twins Hossam and Ibrahim Hassan. I tried contacting Al-Gohari’s son Ahmed when I came only to discover he is in Jordan!” the prince smiled.

As coach, Al-Gohari took Egypt to the 1990 World Cup and later became Jordan’s football manager. He died in 2012.

“I have been visiting several countries and national federations in different continents all over the world in the past weeks. I introduce myself as a candidate whose main goal is to reform and develop the sport in the world. People love football but not FIFA and this is what we intend to work on, regaining the reputation of FIFA.”

“My manifesto for reforming FIFA reflects my discussions with national associations around the world and the priorities that they have expressed to me. They have told me that they want a FIFA development programme which is transparent, fair, generous and flexible – and which delivers tailored support where it is most needed, so that the level of the game rises for all.”

The key pledges detailed in Prince Ali’s campaign are development, football and the FIFA World Cup, commercial success, leadership and governance and corporate responsibility.

In development, the prince presented a detailed 10-point proposal for development, including providing more support for national associations who need it most; more investment in women’s football and women’s and youth tournaments; establishing regional development offices and simplifying the FIFA development application process; enhancing the human aspect of development via the establishment of a scholarship and exchange programme for coaches and officials across the sport; and ensuring that, within four years, every single football association in the world will have what it needs to play the game, including basic infrastructure and equipment.

Regarding football and the FIFA World Cup, Prince Ali plans the following: energising and ensuring more active roles for all FIFA committees including the football committee; evaluating and optimising the international match calendar; reviewing the ranking system and embracing a full and open debate about the place of technology in football; ensuring that any decisions about FIFA World Cup expansion are made openly, democratically and for the good of the sport, based on meaningful professional research.

For commercial success Prince Ali’s main goal is protecting current revenue streams, reducing wasteful spending, and generating significant increases in revenues – therefore increasing the funds available to invest in football around the world.

Prince Ali said he believed that the world’s game deserves a world class governing body - an international federation that is a service organisation and a model of ethics, transparency and good governance.

Through leadership and corporate responsibility, the Asian candidate believes this can be achieved by transforming FIFA’s approach to governance and embracing a transparent, democratic leadership style which encourages debate, empowers others and ensures a clear understanding of the roles of all within the FIFA administration including the role of the president himself; and enhancing FIFA’s shouldering of corporate responsibilities via robust responses to difficult issues such as player exploitation, racism, match fixing, doping, age testing and stadium security.

The prince replied to several questions raised by the media.

“I am coming from a country which is seeing huge development in football and an Asian Confederation that has shown me unity and support in my campaign.”

“Elections reflect democracy and every national federation has the right to choose the candidate it sees as the best to serve our sport. I am not afraid of Blatter or any other candidate. Each one has the right and ambition to run for elections for the president’s seat.”

The 39-year-old Prince Ali told Al-Ahram Weekly that running for the FIFA presidency was not an easy decision. “The status and reputation of FIFA has been in the spotlight for some time now. Even some of us inside FIFA were aware of that. So, I spoke with some of the people there about reforming FIFA. I believe taking such a decision after consulting others was the right decision.”

The decision to award Qatar the 2022 tournament was hugely controversial, prompting an avalanche of allegations about the way it won the bid and concerns about the searing heat in which it would be played and the treatment of migrant workers building the infrastructure underpinning it. Because of the heat factor, the Qatar World Cup was shifted to November and December instead of the usual June and July period, resulting in additional controversy.

“It is clear to me that FIFA currently rides rather than drives the success of the beautiful game of football,” Prince Ali said. “With good governance, targeted development, and growth in the game around the world, there is a great deal of room for improvement in FIFA’s commercial performance, and national associations around the world would benefit from a more commercially savvy and successful FIFA capable of generating more money to invest in them and in football.

“I will lead by example and I have a clear vision to accelerate a long-term plan for football development. I am committed to a programme of reform for FIFA that has football’s best interests at heart and I want the game to flourish for generations to come.

“With a new culture of democracy and with leadership that promotes accountability, transparency and integrity, the global football community can unite to form a new FIFA that national associations, players, fans and all our stakeholders can all be proud to belong to and own.”

The prince said he was proud to serve “a great sport and a fantastic organisation. And I would be honoured to be supported as the next FIFA president.”

Prince Ali said his campaign platform was the result of an extensive international consultation process involving national association leaders, players, coaches, sponsors, fans and other stakeholders.

With FIFA’s reputation at stake with issues of corruption surrounding the world governing body and the recent clash between UEFA President Michel Platini and Blatter, Prince Ali emerges as a tough opponent and a threat to the Swiss.

Platini opted last August not to oppose his former mentor Blatter. But he has also supported the candidacy of Prince Ali.

The prince has been receiving support from several countries, especially in Europe, Asia and Latin America. As the elections draw near, the battle lines between two generations have been drawn -- the 78-year-old experienced Blatter and the 39-year-old youthful prince.

Unlike Prince Ali, Blatter has not released a manifesto or offered any plans for FIFA if a reign which began in 1998 is extended through 2019.
The centrepiece of Figo’s manifesto was a proposal to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, while Van Praag has suggested a 40-team competition in a bid to woo voters.

FIFA national associations will vote to decide the president of FIFA at the 2015 FIFA Congress on 29 May in Zurich, Switzerland.


Throughout his 16 years in various leadership positions in football, Prince Ali has been a consistent advocate for development and good governance. At age 39, he is the youngest FIFA vice-president and the youngest member of the FIFA Executive Committee.

President of the Jordan Football Association since 1999, Prince Ali has worked to promote unity and develop the sport throughout the region. He founded the West Asian Football Federation in 2000 and launched the Asian Football Development Project in 2012. The non-profit development project aims to develop football across Asia with a focus on youth development, empowering women, social responsibility and the protection and evolution of the game.

Prince Ali was elected FIFA vice-president for Asia in 2011. He is also a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). He serves as chairman of the Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee and deputy chairman of the Football Committee at FIFA, as well as chairman of the Social Responsibility Committee and deputy chairman of the Development Committee at AFC.

Prince Ali, the son of the late King Hussein and Queen Alia of Jordan, was educated in Jordan, the UK and the US. He served in the Jordanian Special Forces. He and his wife, Princess Rym, the daughter of a veteran UN and Algerian diplomat, have two children.

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