Prince Ali of Jordan has announced he will run again for the FIFA presidency next year and threw down the gauntlet to his rivals including Michel Platini by claiming they “didn’t have the guts” to challenge Sepp Blatter.
The prince, who lost May’s election to Blatter by 130 votes to 73, made the announcement in Jordan. He will face opposition from UEFA president Platini, who supported him in the last campaign but is now the favourite to succeed Blatter, and Korea’s Chung Mong-joon in the election on February 26. Former Brazil star Zico has also declared his intention to run.
Prince Ali, son of the late King Hussein of Jordan, has said Platini represents ’old FIFA’ as he is a former protege of Blatter’s. His speech also made pointed remarks that others had been afraid to challenge Blatter who is stepping down after 17 years at the helm.
He said: “Ten months ago, I was the only person who dared to challenge Mr Blatter for the presidency of FIFA. I ran because I believe that FIFA needs change. And I had the courage to fight for change when others were afraid.
“I conceded that election. Not because I was not the best candidate, but because others were using me to make room for themselves. They didn’t have the guts to run, but I did. Ever since President Blatter promised his resignation just a few days later, they have been scrambling to secure the job for themselves.
“I didn’t stand for election the first time to make way for others. This election should be about football and not personal ambition. I will not be a pawn for others. I cannot leave the field that I have cleared, only to allow a flawed system to continue.”
The FIFA election is taking place with a backdrop of investigations into football-related corruption that has seen 18 people indicted by the US justice department.
Ali added: “Since the last election, I have thought long and hard about how to reform FIFA. It will be a difficult task. We must overcome deep-seated corruption and political deal-making.
“But I was not brought up to walk away in the face of a tough fight. Nor have I been brought up to walk away from what I believe in or take the easy way out.
“This is about right and wrong. It’s time for us to stand up for what we believe in.”
The prince also sent a message to FIFA’s sponsors promising their association would “no longer be a source of controversy and shame”.
He added: “We are grateful for your patience. Please see us through the last mile of our journey to make you proud.”
He also promised to dedicate himself to growing the women’s game, supporting referees, holding discussions on introducing new technologies, and increasing the fight against match-fixing.