Prince Ali says FIFA politics affected international fixtures
By Brian Homewood
GENEVA (Reuters) - Some national teams have been given unfavorable fixtures for failing to toe the political line inside soccer's world governing body, the Jordanian candidate to become its next president said on Thursday.
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, one of five men competing to take over as head of FIFA, described a climate of fear and reprisals inside the scandal-plagued organization, whose outgoing boss, Sepp Blatter, was suspended in October and banned from football for eight years in December.
"Let me tell you what happens when you don't go with the recognized powers in FIFA," Prince Ali, who is head of Jordan's football association, told a news conference.
"Development projects mysteriously stall; tournament hosting bids are suddenly compromised or withdrawn; national teams start to mysteriously face less favorable fixtures or even referees.
"All of these are effective ways to punish member associations that fail to demonstrate political loyalty."
FIFA is mired in the worst crisis in its 111-year history, with corruption investigations under way in Switzerland and the United States. Several dozen people, including senior soccer officials, have been indicted.
Allegations against FIFA have so far focused on financial malpractice and money laundering. Prince Ali's comments raised the possibility that wrongdoing extended onto the pitch and involved the manipulation of fixtures.
A FIFA spokesman said the group did not comment on the positions of individual candidates while they were campaigning for office. Continued...