Jordan’s Prince Ali would kick new life into FIFA

Prince Ali would bring new blood and a clean professional slate to FIFA

Joyce Karam

Published: Updated:

Only few weeks ago, the mainstream media dismissed Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Hussain as a presidential contender at FIFA. But in the wake of the $150 million corruption scandal and the resignation of the mafia culture symbol at the organization Sepp Blatter, Jordan’s candidate is the new favorite for the job.

Prince Ali’s presidency, if materialized, promises a much needed revamp of the organization. His record of prioritizing the development of football, protecting women’s rights and promoting multiethnic representation inside FIFA, injects new blood into the organization. His platform and 21st century ideas to grant oversight, transparency and separation of powers can rescue one of the world’s oldest and most revered games.

The anti-Blatter

Jordan’s Prince Ali is the anti-Blatter in form and substance. He is half his age, soft spoken and does not resort to anti-American tirades to cover up FIFA’s kickbacks, decades of bribery and extortions. As Vice-President of FIFA for Asia, Prince Ali’s record upholds diversity and inclusiveness in the organization.

Prince Ali’s presidency, if materialized, promises a much needed revamp of the organization

Joyce Karam

For Sepp Blatter, sexist and homophobic remarks were a casual occurrence. Women wearing “tighter shorts” and showing more “female aesthetic” was his recommendation to boost the Women’s World Cup rates in 2004. On the gay community protesting Qatar as a choice for the 2022 World Cup because of the anti-gay laws, Blatter’s first response was “I’d say they should refrain from any sexual activities.” While he later apologized, Blatter’s comments show a detachment from values of equality and feminism that have so long been at core of the struggle in football.

In contrast, Prince Ali championed the lifting of FIFA’s ban on the Hijab in women’s football, and has worked to make the game more diverse and inclusive. Jordan’s own record at international organizations has promoted progressive values. This week Jordan’s Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein has, as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for all countries to provide legal protections for same sex couples and their children.

Hosting a World Cup in South Africa while institutionalizing bribery to make it happen is by no means progressive. It is corrupt, unethical and unfortunate part of Blatter’s legacy.

Prince Ali’s platform

More than divisive political rhetoric and jumping in bed with corrupt governments, fixing FIFA has to involve a complete overhaul of its internal process. Avoiding another Sepp Blatter scheme must start with enforcing term limits on the presidency. Uncontested four terms for Blatter, even as extortion details were surfacing, have plagued FIFA’s reputation.

Prince Ali is offering unprecedented oversight inside the organization. Jordan’s sportsman called for the publication of the Garcia Report into allegations of corruption surrounding Russia and Qatar’s bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. If he is elected and these investigations take their due course, Prince Ali will not be accused of being anti-Arab in exposing any wrongdoing by Doha in this process.

In his platform Prince Ali calls for defining the “extent and limit of authority” for the president. He also advocates a clear separation of powers between the president and the FIFA administration and calls to empower “the Executive Committee to have full transparent oversight of the organization’s accounts and financial situation.” Crucial here as well is providing a detailed budget for the Executive Committee to review and discuss and publishing the minutes of its meetings.

Prince Ali, a strong advocate of the Circassian minorityand married to an Algerian, has also called for a “multicultural and multiethnic” composition at FIFA’s top management. His potential victory would be transformational for FIFA’s image in the Arab world and inspiring for the Middle East youth during one of its region’s darkest hours.

While Brazil’s football legend Zico and France’s Michel Platini are also among the potential nominees to succeed Platter, Prince Ali would bring new blood and a clean professional slate to FIFA as it struggles to correct the Blatter legacy and save the future of football.

Joyce Karam is the Washington Correspondent for Al-Hayat Newspaper, an International Arabic Daily based in London. She has covered American politics extensively since 2004 with focus on U.S. policy towards the Middle East. Prior to that, she worked as a Journalist in Lebanon, covering the Post-war situation. Joyce holds a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Twitter: @Joyce_Karam

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.