Prince Ali of Jordan, the only heavyweight contender with a clear route towards the FIFA presidency election, has demanded that the ballot go ahead as scheduled next February 26.
The executive committee of world football federation FIFA meets in emergency session in Zurich on Thursday of next week amid speculation about the election timing after last week’s provisional suspensions of president Sepp Blatter and UEFA head Michel Platini.
Both men have been implicated in an investigation by the Swiss authorities over an alleged ‘disloyal payment’ 2m Swiss francs (£1.3m) in February 2011.
The deadline for nominations for the election of a successor to Blatter is October 26, four months before the vote, as laid down in statutes.
Last May Prince Ali bin Al Hussein denied Blatter a first-round knockout victory at FIFA Congress and he has put himself forward again, insisting that the organisation needs to resolve the leadership vacuum as soon as possible as well as hasten the process of reform.
Today he said: “Recent events at FIFA have shown us that no one is above the law. The ethics committee must now be allowed to do its work in a robust and timely fashion.
“With FIFA’s crisis deepening, the organization needs to move beyond interim leadership and elect an accountable president.
“Delaying the scheduled election would only postpone needed change and create further instability. It would tell the world that lessons haven’t been learned, that the same backroom deals that have discredited FIFA in the first place continue.
“Members of the FIFA executive committee should remember that football associations, players, coaches and fans the world over are watching.
“The exco should not interfere with an ongoing process that was put in place by the ad hoc electoral committee. The election date of February 26 was set three months ago with a clear procedure that meets all of FIFA’s statutory requirements. Candidates have had plenty of time to declare and still do.
“The rules should not be changed after the game has started.”
A meeting tomorrow of the European federation’s own executive committee may be decisive for Platini’s prospects.
The Frenchman – like Blatter – has appealed against his suspension to the FIFA appeals committee which is likely to rule by the end of the week.
If Platini’s credibility is deemed beyond rescue then UEFA will have to consider finding another European candidate at short notice.
Doubts over Platini could also prompt Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, president of the Asian confederation, to throw his hat into the ring.
The latter move could have significant, negative consequences for Prince Ali’s prospects because of the powerful influence of Sheikh Salman’s supporter, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Olympic movement powerbroker who is an Asian FIFA exco member.