Tuesday 21 November 2017

Prince Ali: Scandals have shaken Fifa to its very core

Prince Ali Bin Hussein believes a single World Cup could be played across confederations
Prince Ali Bin Hussein believes a single World Cup could be played across confederations

FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali of Jordan has said the world governing body has been "shaken to its very core" by the recent scandals - and change is not a matter of choice.

Ali released a statement on Saturday, the day after criminal proceedings were opened against outgoing president Sepp Blatter.

The Swiss attorney general said Blatter is suspected of criminal mismanagement or misappropriation over a TV rights deal he signed with former Caribbean football chief Jack Warner in 2005.

He is also suspected of "a disloyal payment" in 2011 of two million Swiss francs (£1.35million) to UEFA president Michel Platini - seen by many as the favourite to succeed Blatter - for work carried out by the Frenchman more than nine years before between 1999 and 2002.

Blatter and Platini both deny any wrongdoing.

Ali said: "The need for new leadership that can restore the credibility of FIFA has never been more apparent. We cannot change the past, but we can have a future where FIFA member associations are able to focus on football rather than worrying about the next scandal or criminal investigation involving FIFA leadership.

"We have to accept that changing FIFA is not a matter of choice; it has already changed, shaken to its very core by the scandals that have decimated our governing body and cast a cloud over the entire organisation.

"We have a duty to use our expertise, our experience, and our knowledge to lift that cloud by taking action to demonstrate that FIFA is worthy of the sport it oversees on behalf of the players, the fans and the millions of young boys and girls who can benefit from it.

"Change, as I have always said, is a process. It is not an event. The process of change at FIFA began in May. We have an opportunity in February to carry that momentum forward. We must now come together and work to restore FIFA's credibility and reputation by bringing about the change that is so clearly needed.

"I have heard from many member associations over the last 24 hours, and what I have heard gives me confidence that, working together, we can emerge from this stronger."

The chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association Gordon Taylor has said FIFA is not fit for practice, insisting "if it was a school, it would be under special measures".

Taylor told Sky Sports News: "This just shows that football might be the best game in the world but the governance is one of the worst. If it was a school it would be under special measures.

"It's not fit for practice at the moment. The biggest and best game in the world deserves better - and it's got to do better. There are enough ethical people out there to make sure the job's done properly.

"We need to look at the people, transparency and governance. It needs a whole new broom from top to bottom."

Blatter's American lawyer Richard Cullen has insisted "no mismanagement" had occurred.

Cullen said in a statement: "Mr Blatter is co-operating and we are confident that when the Swiss authorities have a chance to review the documents and the evidence they will see that the contract was properly prepared and negotiated by the appropriate staff members of FIFA who were routinely responsible for such contracts, and certainly no mismanagement occurred."

Platini said he had clarified matters about the payment with the Swiss authorities after being interviewed as a witness.

The Frenchman said: "Regarding the payment that was made to me, I wish to state that this amount relates to work which I carried out under a contract with FIFA and I was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters relating to this with the authorities."

In 2005, Blatter signed a contract for World Cup TV rights with the Caribbean Football Union, controlled by Jack Warner. Warner's company later sold the rights on for an £11million profit.

Press Association

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