Who is Prince Ali of Jordan?
What we know about the man who is favourite to be the next president of FIFA.Peter Iantorno January 12, 2016
President of the Jordanian Football Association, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan is the bookies’ favourite to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president when the election takes place on February 26.
Football’s governing body has been plagued by allegations of corruption for years, but Prince Ali insists that he is the man who can bring much-needed change and put an end to the corruption.
"I guarantee I am the right person for this job," he told the BBC in an interview last week. It’s a bold claim, but has he really got the credentials to clean up FIFA?
One thing Prince Ali certainly has got in spades is connections. His brother, Abdullah II, is the King of Jordan, while his sister, Princess Haya bint Hussein, is married to Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Aided by his strong resemblance to his late father Hussein of Jordan, who died in 1999, Prince Ali is a hugely popular figure in his home country. One of 11 children, his mother (Queen Alia – third wife of King Hussein), died in a helicopter crash when he was young.
After beginning his education in Amman, Prince Ali moved to the UK to complete his officer training at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst in 1994. He then spent some time serving as a pathfinder in the Jordanian Special Forces, before finishing his education in the US at Princeton University.
On his return to Jordan, the prince took up the leadership of the Jordanian Football Association. During his tenure as Jordanian FA President, he campaigned to increase the involvement of women in football in the country and he was instrumental in FIFA's decision in 2010 to lift a strict ban on women wearing the hijab while playing.
Second time lucky
This isn’t the first time that Prince Ali has stood for the FIFA presidency. He was Sepp Blatter’s opponent in the May 2015 elections, however he withdrew from the race after the first round of voting showed Blatter to be too far ahead.
Now Blatter has been banned from the game for eight years (along with UEFA boss Michel Platini), the field is clear and Prince Ali is certain he is the right man to step up.
"I come, first of all, from a national association,” he said in his recent interview with the BBC. “I understand development around the world. I served on the FIFA executive committee after I was elected by my continent to bring in a new phase, in order to do real change within the organisation.
"After four years I realised the only way to do it is to run for the presidency. I'm there to serve football and really take it into the 21st century, where it becomes a real service organisation for our national associations around the world."
While he accepted that he is a part of the establishment that has already failed so badly, Prince Ali believes that football can still be changed from the inside. "I am from the national associations and I am a president of a national association. I do believe you can make the change from within football and I want to prove that's the case. That's why it is critical to have the right leadership coming in in February."
It’s all very positive from Prince Ali, but when the BBC interviewer asked him, “Are there any skeletons in your closet?” his evasive reply had more than a touch of the well-trained politician about it.
"I can guarantee that I am the right person for this job,” he said. “My track record is that I keep my word and I implement what I say. Hopefully, when I win this, judge me by my actions. The president has to take responsibility for himself and for the entire organisation."
Best of the rest: the other contenders
- Jerome Champagne, France
- Gianni Infantino, Switzerland/Italy
- Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Bahrain
- Tokyo Sexwale, South Africa