MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The Jordanian prince beaten in May’s FIFA presidential election by Sepp Blatter will almost certainly announce later this week he will stand for the position again at FIFA’s extra-ordinary elective congress next February.
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein on Monday strongly hinted he would stand while speaking to delegates at the Soccerex business convention in Manchester.
Although Ali would not confirm his intentions publicly, sources familiar with the developing FIFA presidential campaign later said the prince would definitely stand and would make his announcement later this week.
He is returning to the Jordanian capital Amman on Tuesday before flying to London on Thursday where he is to address delegates at another public meeting.
Ali, 39, lost by 133-73 votes to incumbent Blatter who then announced he was standing down from the position four days later after FIFA was plunged into its worst crisis following arrests of its officials and others two days before the election.
A fresh election to find a successor to Blatter will be held in Zurich on Feb. 26 and Ali now looks certain to become the third major candidate after declarations from UEFA President Michel Platini of France and former FIFA executive committee member and Asian vice-president Chung Mong-joon of South Korea.
Asked by moderator David Davies if he was a candidate for the presidency of FIFA again, Ali replied: “I am talking to national associations, listening to their opinions and what they see for the future and giving my own ideas.
“Right now we need a candidate who is forward thinking and will bring new ideas who is not tainted by the past as well. So what I will say right now is ‘stay tuned’”
Davies asked: “Do I need to stay tuned this week, or for a month?”
Ali replied with a broad smile: “Not for very long.”
He then expanded on his theme throughout a relaxed 30 minute interview when he stressed time and again the need for a new, transparent FIFA, open to change and widespread reform.
And he said that neither Platini, who supported him in May’s election, or Chung, who lost his executive committee seat as Asian vice-president when Ali beat him in an election in 2011, were ideal future candidates for the FIFA presidency.
“I have tremendous respect for Mr Platini both as the UEFA president and a former footballer but at the same time there is a difference between UEFA and FIFA,” he continued.
“FIFA is in a crisis and we need a new beginning, and whether anyone likes it or not, Michel Platini’s introduction into football governance was as a protege of Sepp Blatter. That’s the reality.
“I have sat down and talked with him, I have listened to his ideas and I think it’s my responsibility to at least guarantee the future is different from the past and therefore I was not very encouraged by Michel Platini.”
He was equally dismissive of Chung, who spent 17 years on the FIFA executive committee before losing his seat to Ali four years ago.
“The important thing is to have a new beginning,” said Ali, “and to have new ideas and therefore any candidate who has been in the organization for a long time is not what is needed at this time.”
Ali confounded many observers by forcing a second round of voting in May’s election after denying Blatter an outright two-thirds winning margin in the first round.
He then conceded defeat before a second ballot took place, but again implied he was considering another bid for the presidency when Davies asked him if he could win the election without the formal, central backing of his own Asian confederation, who’s leadership is backing Platini.
However, it is hard to see him collecting so many votes again, especially if UEFA members back their president Platini and the Asian confederation also throws its weight behind the Frenchman.
“It is a while till we get to the vote in February, but we will see. If the elections are done correctly, cleanly and properly, without interference, then I believe I can win, for sure.”
Candidates with nominations from five national associations must officially register their declarations with FIFA by Oct. 26.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly