MAN credited with giving women’s football the hijab has emerged as the leading challenger to the reign of the man who notoriously said female players should wear tighter shorts.
Prince Ali of Jordan, the head of the West Asian football and a Fifa vice-president, yesterday declared his intention to stand against the world governing body’s leader Sepp Blatter in May’s elections.
The Sandhurst-educated brother in law of horse racing’s Sheikh Mohammed swiftly received the backing of Michel Platini, president of European federation Uefa, and Football Association chairman Greg Dyke.
Former diplomat Jerome Champagne is the third man set to stand for presidency on 29 May, but Prince Ali is already considered more likely to deny Blatter, 78, a fifth term in charge of the scandal-hit body.
Prince Ali has vowed to mend Fifa’s reputation, which has been rocked by allegations of bribery surrounding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, to be staged by Russia and Qatar.
“I am seeking the presidency of Fifa because I believe it is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport,” said the 39-year-old.
Platini said Prince Ali had “all the credibility required to hold high office”, while Dyke called him “certainly a credible candidate”.
WHO IS HE?
■ Born in December 1975, the third son of the late King Hussein attended Sandhurst military academy before joining the Jordanian armed forces
■ He has been president of Jordanian football for 15 years, is head of the West Asian Football Federation and a Fifa vice-president
■ Prince Ali is brother in law to Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed and succeeded in persuading Fifa to lift its ban on the hijab in women’s football