Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan has promised to work closely with Rwanda to take the country's football to the next level, should he become the next FIFA president.
Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, the president of Jordan Football Association, who is one of the candidates seeking to replace Sepp Blatter at the helm of world football, also promised to help promote African football in general.
Prince Ali, who also heads the West Asian Football Federation, was speaking during an exclusive interview with The New Times from the capital Kigali where he arrived on Wednesday as part of his efforts to canvass for support globally ahead of the February elections.
He was scheduled to leave the country late Thursday just two days to the opening of the fourth African Nations Championships (CHAN) in Rwanda, and said his visit was also intended to express his support for the continent's second biggest tournament.
Prince Ali, 41, who lost to Blatter during last year's FIFA elections shortly before the latter dramatically resigned from the post amid investigations into alleged corruption cases involving senior officials at the world football governing body, arrived in Rwanda from Ghana where he attended the congress of West African Football Union (WAFU).
"I wanted to meet the leaders in Africa to explore ways of working together, I am also here to support the CHAN tournament and I will be back for the final (on February 7)," he said.
The FIFA presidential candidate had earlier in the day met with President Paul Kagame, among other senior officials.
"This is a great country and I am happy to meet the President of Rwanda with whom we have discussed many issues of development of the game in Rwanda, it is clear that there is massive support of football in Rwanda and so we discussed about the development of the game in Rwanda and the region."
He said, "We have seen that in Africa there's so much potential," adding that he was keen to work closely with the Confederation African de Football (CAF) to promote the 'beautiful game' on the continent. "Its football that owns FIFA not FIFA owning football".
The Africa bloc has traditionally backed Blatter but with the Swiss having resigned and subsequently banned from all football-related activities for eight years as part of ongoing investigations, the continent's vote appears to be up for grabs.
Prince Ali says he wants to promote high-level competitions as well as joint technical development programmes in such areas as coaching, refereeing, youth football, women's football, integrity, administration, marketing, media and innovative technologies.
Prince Ali, a former FIFA vice president, faces competition from Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the head of the Asian Football Confederation president and member of the Bahrain Royal Family; UEFA secretary-general Gianni Infantino; South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale; and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of Franc.
CAF president Issa Hayatou, who has arrived in Rwanda ahead of CHAN 2016 opening ceremony and is due to address a news conference today, is the current acting head of FIFA.
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