Sat, Jan 23, 2016 - Page 18 News List

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein eyes a clean FIFA vote

AFP, WELLINGTON and NEW YORK

Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein speaks during an interview after his FIFA presidency campaign launch press conference in London on Feb. 3 last year.

Photo: AP

FIFA presidential contender Prince Ali bin al-Hussein yesterday said he was “fully confident” of winning the corruption-plagued organization’s leadership ballot next month, provided the vote is clean.

The Jordanian crown prince, one of five candidates seeking to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter, said the Feb. 26 election represented FIFA’s one chance to restore football’s tarnished reputation.

He called for a more transparent world governing body, reiterating his criticism of a development deal between the Asian and African confederations that he sees as creating a voting bloc for one of his rivals.

“It’s very obvious with the timing that, for whatever reason, it is wrong to be making these sorts of deals,” he told reporters in Auckland.

However, al-Hussein said his campaign was still gaining momentum as he crisscrosses the globe shoring up support.

He secured votes from 73 of FIFA’s 209 member associations during a failed attempt to oust Blatter last year and said his numbers had since improved.

“I can tell you from my side that I am fully confident I will win this if things are conducted properly,” he said. “I think around the [soccer] world that a weight has been taken off people’s shoulders, they want to be proud of being part of this organization again. Without going into specifics, I am building on what I had the last time around.”

Blatter and FIFA vice-president Michel Platini were suspended for eight years last month over irregular payments, while a US inquiry which has left 39 individuals and two companies facing charges over bribes for soccer deals.

Al-Hussein said the best way for FIFA to ensure it was clean was to open the books to proper scrutiny.

“That is what we need to do from now on in FIFA in terms of all aspects of the organization whether it is our financial situation — salaries for example, or World Cup bids — that is what the world deserves,” he said.

Al-Hussein said that FIFA was currently so secretive that even he did not know how much the body’s president was paid.

He said that while a salary was necessary for the organization’s leader, if he was elected he would donate the money to development projects.

“For me personally, I would probably put it into charity, but that’s my own personal choice,” he said.

In related news, a New York judge on Thursday agreed to release former FIFA vice president Alfredo Hawit to house arrest in exchange for a US$290,000 bond, but ordered he remain in prison until a cash deposit is made.

The 64-year-old Honduran was extradited from Switzerland and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday last week to 12 charges stemming from the multi-million dollar FIFA corruption scandal rocking world soccer.

A former president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, he has been suspended by FIFA from all soccer activities.

Magistrate Judge Robert Levy accepted a proposal from Hawit’s lawyer for a bond made up of US$50,000 cash and US$240,000 secured in family property that would see him released on bail and subject to electronic monitoring.

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