NEW DELHI – FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali Bin Hussein has said that if he wins the extraordinary election in February, he will publicize any closely guarded documents necessary as part of his sweeping reforms of soccer’s world governing body.
In an interview with Kyodo News at the Asian Football Confederation Awards, Prince Ali said he is prepared to bring out all the skeletons in the closet at FIFA headquarters in Zurich to help restore credibility in an organization that has hit “rock bottom.”
Prince Ali is running for the presidency again after losing in May to incumbent Sepp Blatter, who is now suspended by the ethics committee for a mysterious payment made to his former sidekick and UEFA president Michel Platini.
Platini is also provisionally banned and has declared candidacy for the February elections where AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, former FIFA executive Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale will stand.
Should Prince Ali take office, the information that will finally come to light is the exact salaries of the FIFA executive committee members, especially that of Blatter and how much money he has siphoned from FIFA since winning his first term in 1998.
Not even Blatter’s closest aides claim to know how much the Swiss has actually pocketed over the years.
“I will open the books completely,” Prince Ali said. “I believe people have a right to know. I think it’s a job that has to be recognized and if you want to have accountability, you need to know what’s there and therefore you can judge.
“Salaries, finances, what have you, that should all be open. Why not? People want it to be open. Everybody wants to be a part of football but unfortunately now, the reputation is where it’s at that there is hesitancy and that is killing the game globally.”
“Everybody is suffering,” he continued. “FIFA is an umbrella for the whole world and that’s what it has to be — a good, service organization for the game. I will hold myself to the highest sense of accountability.”
Since declaring his candidacy, the Jordanian soccer chief has been touring the world like U2 to gauge the feelings of the national associations, which Prince Ali believes should have more of a voice in how world football is run based on his experience as FIFA vice president.
But some of those national associations rode the gravy train conducted by Blatter first-class — it’s how Blatter secured his power base — and Prince Ali understands that changing their mindset will be one of the hurdles he will have to clear if he wants to make the changes he is set on doing.
“Like myself, the majority does not want to play that game — I never did,” he said. “But sure, I face a lot of challenges with that. I will never play that game.
“What I want to do, hopefully when I win this election, is to have the mandate go along with the aspirations of the people. Every national association is accountable to their population and right now across the world, people are embarrassed because they are being lumped with a lot of the problems that are out there. We have to change that, and we have to do that now.
“The organization itself, FIFA, it’s not broken. But it is at rock bottom and we can build up definitely. But we have to be open, we have to be transparent — and not in words but in deeds. I think that’s what people want and we have to have a new outlook in the way we work.”
Prince Ali has a few intriguing ideas if he wins the election, like setting up FIFA regional offices around the world and building a proper national stadium in every member association.
Yet any plan at FIFA — whether it’s new ways to further develop the game or to clean up the ongoing mess — must be accompanied by the willpower and drive to see that it is thoroughly executed.
“The most important thing is implementation,” Prince Ali said. “I served for four years (as FIFA vice president) and we had lots of different people come in like Mark Pieth, Michael J. Garcia and others.
“Now we have a reform committee, we have (Domenico) Scala’s report but the problem is implementation. We have to take the best out of everything and implement it. I will certainly do that.
“I served for four years and I recognized there were troubles at the top so I always stuck with my guns and managed to do certain things and had a lot of things blocked at the same time.
“But I figured then that because I love the sport I have two options: one to remain or one to challenge for the top job because only then can you really exact the changes you need to change the culture and that’s what I did.
“I think we all have to be courageous because as much as people love football around the world, the reputation of the organization is not at all what is should be.”
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