Prince Ali, 39, announced in a speech in the Jordanian capital that he would run again for the top job at world football’s governing body. “Friends I stand here in this ancient place in the timeless heart of Amman to once again launch my candidacy for the Presidency of Fifa,” Prince Ali said.
He spoke further: “Let me be clear, I want to finish what we started. We have come too far to walk away now. I have thought long and hard on this, I believe in the road we started, I believe in the moments I shared with people all over the world, who told me their hopes and dreams.”
Prince Ali is the third heavyweight to declare following UEFA chief Michel Platini of France, and former Asia vice-president Chung Mong-joon of South Korea.
He also said in his declaration speech that his campaign will depend on reforming the organisation.
“It is only through new leadership that FIFA can change I do not believe that FIFA can give this sport back to the people of the world without new leadership, untainted by the practices of the past.
“Since the last election, I have thought long and hard about how to reform FIFA. It will be a difficult task. We must overcome deep-seated corruption and political deal making.
“I will not be a pawn for others. I cannot leave the field that I have cleared, only to allow a flawed system to continue.
“To Member Associations of FIFA I say, you are the backbone of football and FIFA should serve you. FIFA will not be run as the personal fiefdom of an all-powerful clique.
“We must take back the game we love,” Prince Ali added. “We must return to what makes football the greatest sport on Earth: hope, dignity, excellence and opportunity.”
Ali, it would be recalled, lost by 133-73 votes to incumbent Blatter in the election on May 27 before the Swiss announced he was standing down from the position four days later after FIFA was plunged into the worst crisis in its 111-year history following arrests of its officials and others two days before the election.
A fresh election to find a successor to Blatter will be held in Zurich on Feb. 26 and Ali will again campaign on an anti-corruption, reform programme.
Backed by Platini in May’s election, Ali now faces him as an opponent in the race, describing the Frenchman as a “Blatter protege” who is not the man to lead FIFA into a new era of transparency and democracy.
Ali has already defeated Chung in an election when he took his Asian vice-presidency seat on the FIFA executive committee in 2011 which ended the Korean’s 17-year stint at FIFA’s top table.
Ali subsequently lost his place on the FIFA executive earlier this year.
Speaking at the Soccerex global convention in Manchester this week, Ali said: “I have tremendous respect for Mr Platini both as the UEFA president and a former footballer but at the same time there is a difference between UEFA and FIFA.
“FIFA is in a crisis and we need a new beginning and, whether anyone likes it or not, Michel Platini’s introduction into football governance was as a protege of Sepp Blatter. That’s the reality.
“I have sat down and talked with him, I have listened to his ideas and I think it’s my responsibility to at least guarantee the future is different from the past and therefore I was not very encouraged by Michel Platini.”
He was equally dismissive of Chung, saying: “The important thing is to have a new beginning and to have new ideas and therefore any candidate who has been in the organisation for a long time is not what is needed at this time.”
Ali confounded many observers by forcing a second round of voting in May’s election after denying Blatter an outright two-thirds winning margin in the first round.
However, it is hard to see him collecting so many votes again, especially if UEFA members back their president Platini and the Asian confederation also throws its weight behind the Frenchman.
Candidates with nominations from five national associations must officially register their declarations with FIFA by October 26.
Liberian FA president Musa Bility, football legends Zico from Brazil and Nigeria’s Segun Odegbami and David Nakhid, a former Trinidad & Tobago international, who are all lightweights in FIFA political circles, have also said they would be vying for the exalted office.
By Olisemeka Obeche