. . . Fifa presidential candidate dangles carrot on Zim tour
Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
FIFA presidential aspirant Ali Bin Al Hussein wants the world soccer governing body to do more to support African countries and has vowed to channel more funds to the continent and other developing areas such as Asia and the Caribbean should he win the presidency.
Ali flew into the country on Monday night as part of his campaign trail in Africa, and around the world, in his bid to become the next FIFA president.
FIFA’s member-countries will meet in Zurich on May 29 to elect a new president and Ali is among the three candidates vying to unseat incumbent Sepp Blatter, with the others being former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Luis Figo and Dutchman Michael van Praag, who heads the Netherlands Football Association.
The Prince of Jordan began his working visit to Harare with a courtesy call on Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his offices before he met with Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa at the ministry’s offices.
Ali and his small entourage then had lunch with Langa, acting Sport and Recreation Commission board chairman Edward Siwela and ZIFA officials before meeting with the association’s president Cuthbert Dube, his deputy Omega Sibanda, Women Soccer League boss Miriam Sibanda and other board members — Fungai Chihuri and John Phiri.
VP Mnangagwa said Ali had, during his courtesy call on him, explained that he was on a mission to try and become the next FIFA president.
The Vice President said he would convey the details of the Prince of Jordan’s visit to President Mugabe, who arrived home yesterday after attending a COMESA Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“It is quite an honour for his Royal Highness to select Zimbabwe among the 54 or so countries on the continent for his visit,” said Mnangagwa.
“Perhaps it’s because President Mugabe is chairman of the African Union and SADC.
“Perhaps that’s the basis, but he didn’t say so, he just chose and said he is conveying his intention to contest for the presidency of FIFA.
“So, I will convey that message to His Excellency when he arrives but, more importantly, we feel honoured that the Prince personally came to Zimbabwe to seek our vote.”
During his visit to Mnangagwa’s offices, Ali and his delegation were accompanied by Langa, Siwela, ZIFA board members and the Ministry of Sport and Arts and Culture officials.
Ali stressed it was his belief that FIFA was not doing enough to support continents like Africa and Asia.
The 39-year-old Ali, who is a FIFA vice-president for Asia and president of the Jordan Football Association, said he had discussed with Langa the challenges facing African football and Zimbabwe’s football in particular.
Ali said the meetings had helped him get a better understanding of the problems confronting local football.
“We are happy to be here in a beautiful country and I have had wonderful discussions with my colleagues on matters of sport.
“Zimbabwe has a special place in terms of its position in Africa with the President being AU and SADC chairman.
“We have discussed with my brothers in Zimbabwe the challenges that we face in football as developing countries and we have also given our own ideas if elected into FIFA.
“My plan is about development and how we can support countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean to develop their football in terms of standing up on equipment and financial support.
“There is so much talent in Africa and there is need for support for national associations which I think can be done better.
“We think a lot more can be done and we want FIFA to be more inclusive in the whole world and we want national associations to be self sustaining,” said Ali.
Ali also revealed that if elected to lead FIFA, he would want the world body to deal with the problems of member associations on a case by case basis.
He also wants greater transparency in the way issues such as the World Cup are dealt with and has pledged to push for more African slots at the global soccer showcase.
Despite contributing 54 out of FIFA 209 member nations, Africa only has five slots at the World Cup.
Ali, however, acknowledged that he faces a tough task trying to replace Blatter as FIFA president and added that the 79-year-old incumbent had some advantages by virtue of being the sitting president.
“Every country has the right to decide for itself but, obviously, the incumbent always has a bit of advantages but I have been a FIFA vice-president for the last four years and I think there is a willingness by people to progress forward in the organisation,” Ali said.
Langa said he had told Ali that funding remained the biggest problem facing such associations like ZIFA and was happy that the Prince of Jordan had indicated that he would advocate for a scenario where FIFA would consider the challenges of each association on a case by case basis.
The Jordan Football Association boss also said he had discussed the possibility of friendly matches between Zimbabwe and his country and invited ZIFA to the Soccer Expo to be staged in Jordan next month.
Dube said Zimbabwe could benefit from the soccer expo and he also felt honoured that Ali had selected Zimbabwe among the countries he will visit.
“We discussed quite a range of issues to do with exchanges of information and development programmes.
“We also think that Zimbabwe needs more representation on committees in FIFA and CAF as this will help with our interaction with the international football family.
“We also said we need development to be spread right across the country and we are glad that we are benefiting from the Goal Project and the good thing is that his Royal Highness is the vice-president of FIFA and will try by all means to help Zimbabwe as much as possible,” said Dube.
Ali later left Harare for Johannesburg where is expected to meet with South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan while he is expected to travel to Egypt to meet with the majority of the African nations during the CAF Congress in Cairo.