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Prince Ali’s entrance into the race for the Fifa Presidency places reform officially on the agenda – but questions remain as to how far he will go

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan today (Wednesday) joined Uefa President, Michel Platini, in declaring his intention to succeed Sepp Blatter as the head of football’s world governing body Fifa.

Having taken Blatter to a second round of voting in last May’s presidential election, Prince Ali was widely expected to run this time around. Ali will almost certainly form Platini’s main opposition and his campaign will centre upon the need for Fifa to reform. The Jordanian Prince has already been vocal in his opposition to Platini, arguing that the former French international is tainted by the practices of Fifa’s past and fails to represent the change that football wants.

Dr David Webber, a researcher in the cultural political economy of football at the University of Warwick, agrees that Platini – Blatter’s one-time protégé – could derail any meaningful reform of the game:

“It is certainly questionable as to whether Platini, particularly given his close association with Blatter in the past, is the man to deliver the root-and-branch reform that Fifa needs.

“On the face of it, Prince Ali certainly appears to offer a credible alternative. As president of both the Jordanian Football Association and the West Asian Football Federation, Ali is not without experience, and his election would signal a shift away from Europe’s domination of world football’s top job.

“Having previously lobbied for the publication of the Garcia Report into the allegations of corruption surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, a victory for Ali would also be a shot in the arm for those seeking a full disclosure of the partially released findings of this report.

Adding a note of caution however, Dr Webber added that:

“It is somewhat perverse however, that a candidate ennobled by a hereditary monarchy should be the same person to democratise the so-called ‘people’s game’. Whilst Prince Ali’s intentions are undoubtedly laudable, without structural and systemic reform, Fifa will remain the product of a series of undemocratic, unaccountable cliques.

“Breaking up these cliques, decentralising power, and making those responsible for its stewardship more representative must be the top priority for Blatter’s successor. Only by devolving power and improving the transparency of national and regional football associations can meaningful reform delivered back into the hands of supporters, wherever they enjoy the game across the world.”



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