REUTERS – FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan has asked soccer’s world governing body to investigate Friday’s agreement signed between the African and Asian confederations in case it breaches the electoral code.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Confederation of African Football (CAF) counterpart Issa Hayatou signed the ‘co-operation agreement’ in Rwanda, just over a month before the FIFA presidential election in Zurich on Feb. 26.
Sheikh Salman, South African politician and businessman Tokyo Sexwale and Prince Ali are among five candidates standing in the election, with the Jordanian fearing vote deals had been struck between the two confederations who will have a combined 100 votes in the 209 member poll.
“I have always promoted cross-regional understanding, however the timing of this MOU between the AFC and the CAF looks like a blatant attempt to engineer a bloc vote,” Prince Ali said in a statement.
“Africa’s proud football associations are not for sale and development resources belonging to national football associations should not be used by presidential candidates and confederation presidents for political expediency.
“Questions must be asked: was this deal approved by the members of the executive committees of both the AFC and CAF and is the timing of the announcement, prior to a presidential election, acceptable?
“Now more than ever, this apparent exploitation of confederation resources shows the world that the actions of individuals must stop bringing FIFA into disrepute.”
Former FIFA official Jerome Champagne and UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino are also standing in next month’s election which will go ahead with FIFA mired in the worst corruption scandal in its history. Criminal investigations are underway in the United States and Switzerland.
FIFA’s own ethics committee has sanctioned a number of officials, the most notable being FIFA president Sepp Blatter and European soccer boss Michel Platini who were both banned for eight years. Both deny wrongdoing.
The 40-year-old Jordanian royal, who was beaten by 133-73 votes by Blatter in the last FIFA presidential election in May, published his election manifesto earlier this month calling for more transparency at FIFA and term limits for senior officials.
He said FIFA faces a “catastrophic” future if the wrong man is elected.
(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford)