China vital to world football’s future and will ‘no doubt’ host World Cup – Fifa presidential hopeful Prince Ali
Jordanian hopes to win over Asian voters as he seeks to take over from disgraced Sepp Blatter
Fifa presidential candidate Prince Ali bin al-Hussein says China is key to the future of world football and will “no doubt” host the World Cup soon.
The Jordanian royal was beaten by Sepp Blatter in the last election in May, but gets a second chance after the Swiss’s downfall in the ensuing corruption scandal that has since engulfed world football’s governing body.
A reformer in the Asian Football Confederation, he is the least tainted by corruption of the five presidential candidates; despite that, the sorry state of football politics means it remains doubtful whether he has the necessary support in Europe and Asia to win on February 26.
Europeans Jerome Champagne and Gianni Infantino, Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa and South African Tokyo Sexwale are also standing.
In an email interview, Ali insisted that Fifa was still redeemable, and outlined his plans to aid China’s president Xi Jinping’s goal of turning the country into a football superpower.
— Ali Al Hussein (@AliBinAlHussein) January 6, 2016
“Fifa doesn’t need to start again,” insisted the 40-year-old, who earlier this week predicted “catastrophe” for football if he did not win.
“Yes, Fifa’s crisis is unprecedented in modern sport but this is a crisis of leadership ... we need to change the culture at the top. We [need] responsible leadership which sets the example to follow.
“My motivations for running again are the same now as before – I love football, and football deserves to be governed by an organisation that is worthy of the world’s game.
Ali said a Fifa led by him could help China to attract top players to its domestic leagues and develop world-class talents of its own.
“China deserves a Fifa that will help it build a league that will attract the top players in their prime, to their own clubs as well as having a league that can compete at the highest level,” he said. “Chinese football is moving in the right direction and will no doubt one day host a World Cup.
“Helping to encourage, coach and recognise young talent is very important, as is the education of these young players – through football – about different cultures and nationalities.
"China has started recognising the importance of this, with initiatives such as the Grassroots Football project, yet I believe there needs to be more done by the clubs.
"Fifa can help, and should have done more already, to develop the projects and the networks within China that are needed.”
Ali hailed Xi as an anti-corruption reformer and said human rights concerns would not derail China’s hopes of hosting the World Cup.
“Fifa must follow president [Xi]’s lead to ensure that the authorities always take action against those responsible [for corruption],” he said.
“With correct procedures, proper due diligence and a transparent bidding process [for the World Cup] there would be no bad headlines [were China to win]. China has hosted a successful Olympics and would make a worthy and successful host for a World Cup too.
“Every country should have the opportunity to host the World Cup. [A China World Cup] would also be a great boost for the game itself and open the world’s eyes to different cultures through football. Football has an unmatchable ability to create opportunities and bring different communities together. The potential good a country with the size, reach and power of China could do for the game is unimaginable.”