FIFA Vice President Prince Ali bin Al Hussein on Tuesday threw down the gauntlet to incumbent Sepp Blatter for the leadership of football’s scandal-tainted world governing body.
The 39-year-old Jordanian prince said he would be a candidate against Blatter, 78, who will seek a fifth term, when FIFA holds a presidential vote on May 29.
Prince Ali, an ally of Blatter rival Michel Platini, the UEFA president, said he had been encouraged by other FIFA members to stand.
“I know Prince Ali well. He has complete legitimacy to occupy the highest responsibilities,” Platini told AFP.
“We are now going to wait for his proposals and his programme for the future of football,” the UEFA leader added.
The prince is guaranteed nearly all the 54 UEFA votes and must now aim to sway enough FIFA members from his Asia region and other confederations against Blatter to get 105 backers at the election.
The rivalry threatens to become bitter.
The prince said his campaign would be based on getting FIFA away from “contoversy”.
“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.
“The headlines should be about football, the beautiful sport, not about FIFA.”
FIFA has been dogged by scandal since 2010 votes that awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 event to Qatar. The prince, a FIFA vice president for Asia since 2011, has been among leaders who want the full release of an inquiry into the vote process.
“This was not an easy decision. It came after careful consideration and many discussions with respected FIFA colleagues over the last few months,” Prince Ali said.
“The message I heard, over and over, was that it is time for a change.
“The world game deserves a world-class governing body — an International Federation that is a service organisation and a model of ethics, transparency and good governance.”
Prince Ali, a son of the late King Hussein of Jordan, was one of the most senior FIFA officials to call for the full publication of lawyer Michael Garcia’s report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
FIFA’s executive has voted to release an “appropriate” edited version of the report and Blatter has ruled out any suggestion that Qatar could lose the right to host the 2022 tournament.
UEFA’s Platini and European federations have led calls for Blatter to keep an earlier promise to stand down when his fourth term ends.
But the 78-year-old Swiss official says he has a “mission” to finish.