Asia’s lack of democracy typical of FIFA ethos, says Ali

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, the head of the Jordan FA and currently Asia’s own vice-president on the FIFA executive committee, directed his criticism at AFC president Shaikh Salman of Bahrain but said apart from UEFA, the other confederations were guilty of the same thing.

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Shaikh Salman refused to allow Portugal’s Luis Figo, Michael van Praag of the Netherlands and Prince Ali the opportunity to speak at last week’s AFC Congress in Manama, the capital of Bahrain.

“Our continent is about dignity and respect. Hospitality is also crucial for us, and for me it was shocking that Europe (UEFA) invited us all to take the stage but when others came to my continent they were not given that chance,” Ali told reporters at the Asian Soccerex Forum in Jordan.

“It was their congress but to me it was shocking. Obviously you have the incumbent (Blatter) and the other candidates there,” he added.

“But if I wasn’t running myself, I would have made sure that you’d get all four candidates on the stage with the chance to ask them questions and get to know what their programmes are, and to see where we can benefit and base our decisions on that.

“Unfortunately that was not the case, not even in my own confederation. Obviously it was not just Asia but in other confederations as well, apart from UEFA.

“I am concerned that if that attitude takes place at the top level of football, what does that mean for national associations themselves?

“On the one hand you say as a national association you have to be democratic but you don’t apply it to the top level of football? And that’s a big problem I see.”

Ali continued: “The reasoning is that the incumbent was speaking only as the president of FIFA and not campaigning when we could all pretty much see that there was some campaigning going on.”

The Jordanian is an unusual position with less than a month to go before FIFA’s 209 delegates vote on whether to sanction a fifth term of office for Blatter, as expected, or decide to end his 17-year reign.

Unless Ali wins the presidency, he will leave the FIFA executive committee after four years because his seat is being taken by Shaikh Salman.

The pair were once closely allied but Shaikh Salman declared in January that the AFC was going to support Blatter, although not every Asian federation is expected to do so.