Prince Ali's FIFA push needs AFC support

Tue Jan 6, 2015 4:42am EST
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(Reuters) - With the expected backing of European body UEFA, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein's hopes of becoming the first Asian president of FIFA will rest on his ability to sway support at home in the Asian Football Confederation.

UEFA and AFC members will account for 100 votes -- almost half of the total -- at the May elections in Zurich, where the 39-year-old Jordanian royal will stand against Jermone Champagne and, barring a shock U-turn, incumbent Sepp Blatter.

Tuesday's announcement of Ali's decision to stand followed UEFA President Michel Platini revealing last month that he did not want to back either Blatter or Champagne and hoped another candidate would emerge.

And stepped forward the Frenchman's close confidant Prince Ali.

The Jordanian royal, who said he had been encouraged to stand by his FIFA colleagues, will be able to bank on the support of the 54 members associations of a united UEFA, who have been critical of Blatter.

But a successful election will need votes from elsewhere, and Blatter has already been assured of the support of Africa's 54 members, Confederation of African Football general secretary Hicham el Amrani said in September.

Asia is the key battle ground.

Despite being the founder and head of the West Asian Football Federation, and the AFC's FIFA Vice President, Ali's stock in his home continent has dropped since taking on the role at the world governing body in 2011.

Ali lost a political power struggle to AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa last year, with the Bahraini forcing through policy to ensure the head of the organization took the FIFA seat on the all-powerful executive committee.   Continued...

Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, head of the Jordan Football Federation, speaks after he won the votes of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the FIFA vice-presidency during the 24th AFC congress in Doha January 6, 2011.  REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad