Fri, Oct 12, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Ex-FIFA official takes soccer charity global

AP, GENEVA, Switzerland

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan speaks during an interview in London, England, on Tuesday.

Photo: AP

Former FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan is taking his charity project worldwide to build on its work of bringing soccer to Syrian refugees in Jordan.

The prince on Tuesday detailed plans for the Association Football Development Program Global to fund projects, donate equipment and provide expert management at a launch at Arsenal’s home stadium in London.

The non-governmental organization’s partners include War Child UK, which helps former child soldiers in Africa, the UEFA Foundation For Children, streetfootballworld and La Liga.

The prince’s original focus was in Asia, with funding from FIFA payments as a member of its executive committee from 2011 to 2015.

He decided to go global after meeting soccer officials on his FIFA election campaigns in 2015 and 2016.

“I realized you could really broaden the work to the entire world where there are so many similar challenges,” Prince Ali told reporters in a telephone interview ahead of the launch event.

Central Africa is a target with the War Child Football Club project aiming to launch in seven countries with help from AFDP Global.

Prince Ali said he is open to working with professional clubs, who can apply to partner on projects.

“We are not going to limit ourselves to anything,” he said. “There is absolutely no politics involved and it’s not limited to any place. It could be a project with inner-city kids in the UK.”

The Zaatari refugee camp of 80,000 people displaced from Syria has been the program’s core work, with 5,000 children now playing soccer, including on a field for girls opened in recent weeks.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, but I’m very proud of what it has become,” said Prince Ali, who said he had no immediate plans to work with FIFA.

“We want to work independently, but if we are asked to, then sure,” he said. “Any work we do has to be really physically tangible on the ground.”

UEFA has supported the Zaatari camp, and its president, Aleksander Ceferin, praised AFDP for “giving these children opportunities that they otherwise would not have had.”

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