Prince Ali ready for 'mismatched battle' again

Prince Ali ready for 'mismatched battle' again
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Published September 11th, 2015 - 21:54 GMT via

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Prince Ali Bin Al Hussain’s decision to run for football’s top job again is considered a courageous one
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussain’s decision to run for football’s top job again is considered a courageous one

It could be a called a mismatched battle by most, but Prince Ali Bin Al Hussain’s decision to run for football’s top job again is a courageous one. “I want to finish what we started,” the member of Jordan’s royal family said while making the announcement on Wednesday night — and he deserves all the support from the region.

Glancing through the full text of his speech, strong on rhetoric as any election manifesto would be, one could not help but admire his guts in his assessment of Michel Platini — the French footballing legend and head honcho of Uefa who has thrown his hat in the ring this time. As somebody who came into the game’s administration as Blatter’s protege, felt Ali, Platini could not be the right choice to clean the Augean stables of Fifa.

The job will be, hence, tougher this time than the last election for Prince Ali or any other challenger with a credible face against the strongman of European football, who is one of the best examples of a sporting legend-turned-successful sports administrator along with may be Seb Coe. A face of defiance against the rule of corruption and misrule of Blatter last time around, Platini has shown a wonderful sense of timing to join the fray this time — trying to make sure it’s virtually a free run for him.

The Frenchman had, in May, announced his support for Prince Ali, but it looked more a form of tokenism and the Jordanian sees it quite rightly that “others were using me to make room for themselves.”

Once the septuagenarian Blatter’s isolation was complete, the writing was quite clear on the wall that Platini would take the final plunge.

The dynamics of an event like the Fifa presidential election is such that it cannot be fought from the platform of idealism alone — and this is where the 39-year-old Jordanian has to start working on the numbers if he is to make a decent fight of it. Despite the Asian body putting their weight officially behind Blatter last time, Prince Ali did well to take the contest to a second round of voting at 133-73 before conceding defeat. But the road could be even tougher now.

It’s a principle of give-and-take that governs the numbers in any high-profile election like this and hence the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) decision to back Blatter last time was hardly a surprise. The script is likely to unfold the same way this time, though the AFC — despite being effusive in praise for the former midfield general — has still not put the official endorsement on Platini’s candidature.

As an erstwhile member of the Fifa top brass himself, Prince Ali, who had been the Asian vice president for four years until he had to make way for Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa this time, the Jordanian knows the road is a rocky one. But an unlikely change of stance from the AFC may throw open some interesting twists and turns in the next few months.

Let’s see how far he succeeds in seeking to make football a global force for — to quote him — social good and responsibility.

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2015. All rights reserved.

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