FIFA’s VP Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein to run against Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter will have a challenger for the FIFA presidency in May after Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan announced he will stand for election.
Prince Ali, a FIFA vice-president and head of the Jordanian FA, is the first credible challenger to emerge and his announcement has been welcomed in senior UEFA circles.
The only other person to have stated they will stand for FIFA’s top job is Frenchman Jerome Champagne, but it remains uncertain whether he would get the minimum five countries to nominate him.
Britain’s FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said it was important for the democratic process for there to be a proper election in May.
Boyce told Press Association Sport: "I have known Prince Ali for the last three and a half years and he is someone who is held in the highest esteem and is a very credible person.
"He has decided he will stand for the presidency of FIFA and it gives the 209 associations now the opportunity to decide, and another choice. It’s a democratic process and it should make the elections at the end of May very interesting."
Prince Ali – a 39-year-old Sandhurst-educated son of the late King Hussein of Jordan – is likely to get support from many European countries, including England, and it is understood he spoke with UEFA president Michel Platini several days ago to inform him of his intentions.
Platini is said to be "very pleased" by the announcement – he has already said he will not support Blatter for another term – and will now consult with the European associations.
Prince Ali has positioned himself as a leading reformer of FIFA and was among those calling for the Garcia report into World Cup bidding to be published in full.
He said in a statement: "I am seeking the presidency of FIFA because I believe it is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport.
"This was not an easy decision. It came after careful consideration and many discussions with respected FIFA colleagues over the last few months.
"The message I heard, over and over, was that it is time for a change. 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."
Blatter has held his position as FIFA President since 1998 and will be running for a fifth term at the 65th FIFA congress in Zurich on May 29.
The governing body has been engulfed by controversy in recent months over the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
American lawyer Michael Garcia produced a 430-page report into the bidding for the tournaments but quit as FIFA’s ethics investigator after losing his appeal against the findings which cleared Russia and Qatar to host the World Cups.
The executive committee agreed unanimously in December that an "appropriate" form of the Garcia report into World Cup bidding should be published.
Officials at a meeting in Morocco agreed to the proposal without a vote being taken – but nothing will be published until the Ethics Committee charges against three FIFA ExCo members – Angel Villar Llona of Spain, Belgium’s Michel D’Hooghe and Thailand’s Worawi Makudi – have been dealt with.
"The headlines should be about football, not about FIFA," Prince Ali added.
"FIFA exists to serve a sport which unites billions of people from all over the world, people of differing and divergent political, religious and social affiliations, who come together in their enjoyment of ‘the world’s game."
Prince Ali has served as president of the Jordan Football Association since 1999 and a year later founded the West Asian Football Federation which consists of 13 different nations.
Champagne is a former FIFA deputy secretary general and, along with Blatter and Prince Ali, is the only other official candidate for the top job. Nominations have to be made before January 31.
UEFA president Michel Platini said Prince Ali was a very credible candidate.
Platini said in a statement: "I know Prince Ali well. He has all the credibility required to hold high office. We now await his proposals and his programme for the future of football."