10 Things To Know About FIFA Presidential Candidate Prince Ali Of Jordan
FIFA is in crisis mode, but the global football organization has suffered from longstanding allegations of corruption and exploitation for years.
In 2010, FIFA awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively, amidst claims of misconduct and money laundering.
In 2011, a whistleblower claimed leaders and officials paid money to the FIFA executive committee to buy votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
In 2013, Amnesty International released a report detailing “an alarming level of exploitation” and “human rights abuses” during World Cup construction projects.
In Qatar, 1,200 workers have already died preparing for the 2022 World Cup, and the International Trade Union Confederation expects the death toll to reach around 4,000 by the time the World Cup begins.
Current FIFA President Sepp Blatter has been the lone head of FIFA through all of the organization's major scandals and controversies.
Blatter has faced even more criticism and calls to step down following the recent arrests of 14 FIFA officials on charges of corruption, conspiracy and racketeering.
Despite the organization's current crisis, and despite Switzerland officials' plan to open a separate criminal investigation on FIFA's officials, 17-year President Blatter publicly announced he will not step down.
While Blatter was expected to comfortably win another incumbent election as FIFA president on Friday, the recent indictments have spurred more of a public outcry in support of new leadership in the form of Blatter's opponent, Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan.
US Soccer President Sunil Gulati, UEFA President Michel Platini and the Canadian Soccer Federation have already declared they will vote against Blatter in favor of Prince Ali.
Here are 10 things you need to know about the prince who wants to save FIFA.
1. He is well-educated
Prince Ali attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in England, followed by the Salisbury School in Conneticut.
Prince Ali was commissioned as an officer while at Sandhurst. After serving in Jordan's armed forces, Prince Ali returned to the US to study at Princeton.
2. He is a decorated Jordanian Special Forces veteran
Prior to returning to the US to study at Princeton, Prince Ali served as a pathfinder in the Jordanian Special Forces.
While serving, Prince Ali earned his military freefall parachute wings, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Star of Jordan, the French Legion d'honneur and the Order of the Rising Sun of Japan.
3. He's a family man
Prince Ali is married to former CNN journalist Rym Brahimi. Together, they have one son and one daughter.
4. He has leadership experience outside of the football world, too
Before becoming a bonafide leader in the football world, Prince Ali undertook numerous leadership positions in Jordan. He served in King Abdullah II's Royal Guards special security from 1999 to 2008.
Following his service, Prince Ali was appointed director for Jordan's National Centre for Security and Crisis Management. Additionally, Prince Ali is the president of Jordan's Royal Film Commission.
5. He is founder and president of the West Asian Football Federation
Prince Ali founded the West Asian Football Federation in 2001 in order to create an association for football-playing countries in Western Asia.
Under Prince Ali's leadership, the federation has gained seven additional member countries since its creation.
6. He is not afraid of reform
In 2012, Prince Ali used his FIFA position to lift the ban on female football players wearing hijabs.
Previously, FIFA claimed hijabs, or Muslim women's headscarves, were a threat to safety while playing football.
Prince Ali successfully pushed FIFA officials to vote to lift the hijab ban, and subsequently received extensive praise from Muslim players around the world.
7. He is not afraid to take a stand against corruption
After FIFA awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids to Russia and Qatar, Prince Ali was one of the top FIFA officials who called for the publication of lawyer Michael Garcia's investigation on possible corruption in the World Cup bidding process.
While FIFA ultimately rejected the Garcia report and its findings, Prince Ali was one of the highest FIFA officials demanding its publication.
8. He is one of FIFA's seven vice presidents
Prince Ali may already have a taste of FIFA's power after being elected a vice president in 2011, but he has used his position to repeatedly speak out against the organization's tendency to create controversy.
In regard to FIFA, Prince Ali has said, "We need transparency." "I don't have any interest in [politics], I want to develop the sport," and "it is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport."
9. He doesn't want to be a multi-term president like Blatter
When asked how long he would like to serve as FIFA's president, Prince Ali responded, "One term." While Blatter is now running for his fifth consecutive term as FIFA president, Prince Ali would rather "get in there, make the changes that need to be made and then get out of the way."
10. He is the only man standing between Blatter and another term as FIFA president
Blatter originally had more competition for the 2015 FIFA presidency election, but opponents gradually dropped out, leaving only Prince Ali to challenge the incumbent.
In January, former France International David Ginola withdrew from the race after failing to secure the required number of nominations from national associations.
In February, former FIFA executive Jérôme Champagne was forced to drop out after also failing to secure the five required nominations.
On May 21, Dutch Soccer Federation President Michael van Praag dropped out amidst rumors of Blatter's challengers attempting to pool their votes against the incumbent.
Just hours later, former Real Madrid and Barcelona player Luís Figo dropped out of the race after calling the election "anything but an election."
Now, it's all down to Blatter and Prince Ali.