ZURICH (Reuters) - The African leader prevented from going for FIFA’s top job, after failing an integrity check, says delegates must reject proposed reforms at soccer’s scandal-hit global body as they would leave the president powerless.
Liberian FA chief Musa Bility, one of the most outspoken leaders in African soccer, also predicted half of the continent’s votes in Friday’s FIFA presidential election would go to Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan rather than Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain.
FIFA’s 209 member national associations (FAs) each hold one vote in the poll that will choose a replacement for Sepp Blatter who has been banned for six years due to ethics violations.
Before the election at a special congress, the FAs will also be asked to pass a detailed package of reforms, including term limits for top officials and disclosure of earnings, aimed at preventing a repeat of a graft scandal that has plunged FIFA into the worst crisis in its 112-year history.
Bility, wearing a red and white-hooped Liberia national team shirt under his jacket, said FIFA was putting the cart before the horse.
“These reforms send a very wrong signal ... that we will have a president who will not have all the authority of the president of FIFA,” he told Reuters.
”Let us focus on choosing the right person, someone we trust, someone we believe in, and entrust the organization to that person and then let that person lead the reform.
“We must not make the mistake of choosing wrong people and correcting that wrong by putting laws that will impede the authority of the president,” added Bility.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has said it will back Sheikh Salman. Voting is secret and it cannot force the 54 African FAs to follow its lead but Bility said they would not vote as a block.
“I‘m sure of 27 votes for Ali from CAF and (Swiss candidate) Gianni (Infantino) is making a very good effort in Africa, his people are here,” said Bility.
Despite openly contradicting CAF, Bility said he did not fear reprisals.
”So far nobody has come to me to say, ‘why are you doing this’?“ he added. ”You just have to be strong and do good work in your federation because this is where your power is.
“If you don’t do that then you have to depend on people to protect you.”
Bility added he did not want aid cash from FIFA.
“We don’t want money to be given to us like that every year, we want a system just like Europe where every nation will have a league which creates funding for them,” he explained.
“Africa has huge companies, they have massive investments. CAF needs to have a relationship with corporations to create leagues in Africa that allow players to play at a professional level and make money on the continent.”
Bility’s plans to stand were foiled in November when FIFA’s electoral commission said he failed an integrity check but he said he did not understand why he was barred.
“I didn’t have any exchange with them,” he added.
Asked what the integrity check consisted of, Bility said: “Nothing, just newspaper clips. They were afraid, they wanted control over Africa and they were afraid of me, that was it”.
He pointed out he had not been found guilty of any ethics violations. “Why am I at FIFA conventions, why am I participating?” he said.
FIFA’s electoral commission could not be reached for immediate comment.
Editing by Tony Jimenez