Prince wants Fifa ballot suspended over booths

LONDON • Lawyers for Fifa presidential candidate Prince Ali Al Hussein have urged the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to suspend Friday's vote for a new head to lead the world football body out of its worst corruption crisis.

Prince Ali, whose request for transparent voting booths was rejected last week by Fifa, is unhappy with the arrangements for a vote expected to set a new tone of transparency for an organisation mired in the past in secret dealings.

Having rejected the Jordanian prince's offer to make transparent booths available to the congress, Fifa instead will ask voters to leave their mobile phones outside while choosing between five candidates.

"This request is not sufficient," said a statement issued by Ali's legal team. "Fifa remains silent upon the measures to enforce it and sanctions associated with it."

Prince Ali was not immediately available for comment on the issue.

He had wanted transparent booths to ensure delegates do not photograph their ballot papers when they choose the Fifa head. This would prevent delegates coming under pressure to produce evidence of their vote to interested parties.

Fifa's 209 national football associations (FA) each hold one vote at the election in which he is among five candidates standing to replace Sepp Blatter, who is banned for eight years amid a graft scandal.

Under Fifa statutes, voting is secret. the prince's lawyers said Fifa had objected to their demand for an expedited appeal hearing to deliver a verdict before Friday's vote, prompting them to ask the CAS to suspend the election.

The CAS said in a statement yesterday that it would decide on the matter no later than tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, another Fifa presidential candidate, Jerome Champagne, has protested to Fifa about the number of observers allowed into the hall for the election, saying he believed they were working for his rivals.

Champagne said 20 observers' credentials had been given to European ruling body Uefa, whose general secretary Gianni Infantino is running for the Fifa job, and seven to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), whose chief, Sheikh Salman Ibrahim Al Khalifa, is also a presidential candidate.

In a letter to Fifa's electoral commission, Champagne said the presence of observers from the confederations could unfairly influence the poll because they would have access to the voting delegates.

He said that the accreditations he was complaining about were in addition to the eight granted to each candidate and their teams. A spokesman for the electoral committee said accreditation was in the hands of Fifa, which could not immediately be reached for comment.

The other candidate for the Fifa post is South African politician Tokyo Sexwale.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline 'Prince wants Fifa ballot suspended over booths'. Print Edition | Subscribe