Jordan's prince to seek FIFA presidency

Willie Grace | 1/6/2015, 10:39 a.m. | Updated on 1/6/2015, 10:39 a.m.
"The message I heard, over and over, was that it is time for a change. The world's game deserves a ...
"The message I heard, over and over, was that it is time for a change. The world's game deserves a world-class governing body --- an International Federation that is a service organization and a model of ethics, transparency and good governance."

(CNN) -- Can this prince topple the king of world football's governing body?

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein has stepped forward to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency at May's election.

Blatter, 78, is seeking a fifth consecutive term in office despite growing disillusion with the way the organization has been run during his tenure.

The Swiss, who became president in 1998, has not faced a credible challenger since taking office but will now find himself in the middle of a real battle.

"I am seeking the presidency of FIFA because I believe it is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport," Prince Ali said in a statement.

"This was not an easy decision. It came after careful consideration and many discussions with respected FIFA colleagues over the last few months.

"The message I heard, over and over, was that it is time for a change. The world's game deserves a world-class governing body --- an International Federation that is a service organization and a model of ethics, transparency and good governance."

FIFA has been been heavily criticized following allegations of corruption over its bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the event for 2022.

A FIFA investigation found no wrongdoing in the process.

Prince Ali, 39, is the third son of Jordan's late King Hussein from his marriage to his third wife, Queen Alia.

He was elected FIFA vice president representing Asia in 2011. He also serves as the president of Jordan's soccer governing body and is founder and president of the West Asia Football Federation.

Prince Ali has played a key role in the promotion of women's sport, securing Jordan's position as hosts of the Women's under-17 World Cup which is scheduled to take place next year.

He also successfully campaigned to lift the ban on female Islamic players wearing headscarves during competition.

The Asian Football Development Project, a non-profit organization, was created by Prince Ali in 2012 to encourage youth participation in football throughout the continent.

It runs projects across Asia on empowering women within football, youth development and raising knowledge of the game.

Prince Ali is believed to already have secured the backing of Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, Europe's governing body.

Platini is expected to examine the policies and manifesto of the Jordanian royal before recommending to the 54 members of Uefa that they back the candidate at the election on May 29 in Zurich.

In a statement made on Tuesday, the Frenchman said: "I know Prince Ali well. He has all the credibility required to hold high office. We now await his proposals and his program for the future of football."

But Prince Ali faces a more difficult challenge to secure support from his own region with a number of countries in the Asian Football Confederation likely to support his opponent.

Speaking to reporters last November, Shaikh Salman bin Al Khalifa, head of the AFC, reiterated his confederation's support for Blatter.