PtG Article 22.05.2015

Prince Ali stands as Blatter’s only contender after van Praag and Figo pull out

Two of the four candidates for the seat as FIFA president have pulled out of the election race, leaving Jordanian Prince Ali as Blatter’s only challenger in the race.

After Michael van Praag, chairman of the Dutch FA and former professional footballer, the Portuguese Luis Figo pulled out yesterday, Jordanian Prince Ali Al Hussein, is now the only one challenging incumbent Sepp Blatter, who has held a firm grip on the post as FIFA president for the past 16 years.

In a statement posted on his website, van Praag said that the three contesters had sat down to discuss their chances of winning the election, taking place on 29 May. They acknowledged that challenging Blatter is a difficult task that takes strategic consideration to overcome and that placing the bets on one contestant would be the safest play. Van Praag puts his bets on Prince Ali.

“… [W]e believe – as do practically all key players in the world – that one single candidate would have a bigger chance to win the election. Prince Ali Al Hussein convincingly demonstrated that at this moment in time, he is the candidate who has the biggest chance to challenge Sepp Blatter,“ said van Praag in his statement.

“I wholeheartedly support the Prince in his endeavour and ask from the member states that already promised me their support to vote for mister Ali Al Hussein in the upcoming elections, to truly accomplish football for everyone.”

While Luis Figo, according to van Praag also took part in the discussions between Blatter’s challengers, he has not openly supported Prince Ali in the continued campaign. In a post on his Facebook page, Figo gave a harsh critique of the electoral campaigning process, during which Blatter’s challengers, on several occasions, have been denied a chance to present their presidential programme and visions for the international football body, while Blatter himself has chosen not to present a manifesto at all.

“Does anyone think it's normal that an election for one of the most relevant organizations on the planet can go ahead without a public debate? Does anyone think it's normal that one of the candidates doesn't even bother to present an election manifesto that can be voted on May 29? Shouldn't it be mandatory to present such a manifesto so that federation presidents know what they're voting for?,” wrote Figo.

“That would be normal, but this electoral process is anything but an election.”

According to Figo, the whole election process is about assuring Blatter another term.

“This (election) process is a plebiscite for the delivery of absolute power to one man - something I refuse to go along with.” Figo said.

The 209 FIFA member federations will have the final say at the election which will take place during the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland on 29 May 2015. Find the Congress Agenda here