AMMAN - Prince Ali of Jordan, who is challenging South Korea's Chung Mong-joon for Asia's FIFA slot, said on Friday he would push for a bigger role for Asian football and the reform of world football's governing body if he won.
"I want to energise this post and I want to maximise its use and that is one of the reasons why I am running for this position," Prince Ali told Reuters in an interview.
He has just finished the latest election campaign tour of Asia and Oceania, including Australia, ahead of a January 6 secret ballot in Doha for the post of FIFA Vice President for Asia.
Prince Ali, 35, is facing Chung, 59, scion of the founder of South Korea's Hyundai industrial group and one of the more high profile of FIFA's eight vice presidents who is tipped as a successor to Sepp Blatter, the head of the body.
Prince Ali hopes to win on the back of a campaign for transparency to improve FIFA's image, under fire for allegations of corruption and vote buying. He says it is time for younger blood in a contest that is featuring intense political lobbying that could just as easily decide the outcome.
"We have a lot of respect for Dr Chung, he has done a lot for football but he has been there for 16 years as vice president and certainly I do believe now that it is time to make a change," Prince Ali said.
If elected, the charismatic Jordanian prince, who is a half brother of Jordan's King Abdullah, and who helped create and currently leads the West Asian Football Federation, (WAFF) would be the youngest member on FIFA's executive council.
The Jordanian royal has already won public pledges of support for his nomination from several football associations in the Middle East, including Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Mohammed Bin Hammam of Qatar, president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), has recently stated in Damascus he would not support Prince Ali in the Doha vote just because he was a fellow Arab and remained non-committal.
The prince said a development fund was needed to prioritise spending on football development in Asia in new areas to bring more transparency to FIFA's decision-making process.
"Through this Asia fund we can work in an open and transparent way to provide for national associations what they need, all of them regardless of size. That's a crucial thing to do at the moment," Prince Ali said.
He welcomed the arrival of the World Cup to Qatar in 2022 in a contest that had raised questions about the process of selecting the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals with some critics saying it had been seriously tainted.
"There were a lot of questions as to the size of Qatar and other issues like that. It should be a celebration for our area. I do believe it will be a great World Cup. It's still a number of years from now and we have a lot of preparations before that but I think it will be a great one," Prince Ali said.
Running a campaign under the slogan "We are Asia taking our place", Prince Ali said his grassroots approach would focus on more spending on stadiums, young players, women's teams, and bringing state of the art technology into the game - all key concerns to narrow the gap between Asian football and the West.
"The performance level of Asia will rise," Prince Ali said.
"We have a lot of countries in Asia that demographically are very large and are just now getting into football or improving so I do believe that the future of football is Asia."comments