Football: Prince Ali says Fifa leaders knew of corruption

Fifa vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan gestures during a speech on the future of football at the Soccerex convention in Manchester on Monday.
Fifa vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan gestures during a speech on the future of football at the Soccerex convention in Manchester on Monday. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANCHESTER, England (AFP) - Prince Ali bin al Hussein, who led a challenge against Mr Sepp Blatter this year, hit out on Monday at Fifa leaders' links to corruption ahead of his entry into the Fifa presidential race.

The Jordanian prince is expected to declare his candidacy on Wednesday in Amman, according to sources close to the former Fifa vice-president.

Standing as a reform candidate the prince lost to Mr Blatter in an election in May, just two days after the arrest of seven Fifa officials in Zurich.

The prince said at the Soccerex convention in Manchester that he was still considering a bid.

He indicated however that he believed he could win the race against Uefa leader Michael Platini, South Korean tycoon Chung Mong-Joon and Brazilian football hero Zico.

"If (the election is) done correctly, cleanly, properly and without interference I believe I can for sure," he said.

And he again hit out at his rivals, particularly Platini, who announced his bid in July and is considered a strong favourite.

"I have tremendous respect for Platini as both Uefa president and a footballer, but there's a difference between Uefa and Fifa," Prince Ali said.

"Platini's introduction into football governance was as a protege of Sepp Blatter. We need a new beginning."

The Prince said he had been unconvinced by the French football legend's reform proposals.

He said that Mr Chung had also been involved in Fifa for "too long".

Prince Ali said the Fifa brand is now "extremely damaged" and that its top leaders could not escape the spotlight caused by the arrest of seven Fifa officials in a Zurich hotel in May on US bribery charges.

"I do believe that anything that happened within Fifa was known within the leadership of Fifa," the prince said."There is no way that is not the case."

Members of the executive committee "undoubtedly" knew what was going on in football deals, he added."If a player or if somebody breaks the rules then they are punished regardless of where they come from, okay. So why is the executive committee different."

The Prince repeated that Mr Blatter "should take responsibility" and stand down immediately. The longstanding Fifa president said he will give up when the special election is held on Feb 26.

Fifa has been embroiled in a major corruption scandal since the arrest of the seven officials on May 27. They are among 14 people charged by the US authorities over more than US$150 million (S$214 million) in bribes given for television and marketing deals.

The prince challenged Mr Blatter for the Fifa presidency two days later but gave up after the first round of voting.

"Right now we need a candidate who is forward-thinking, brings new ideas and not tainted by the past," he said.

Oct 26 is the deadline for candidates to declare.

All must get five of Fifa's national associations to sign their candidacy to get into the election.

Prince Ali is confident he will get the five signatures, the sources said.