Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein has announced his intention to run against FIFA “President for Life” Sepp Blatter in this year’s FIFA elections. FIFA’s youngest vice president, Al Hussein will be looking to disrupt Blatter’s amazing cup run of four consecutive election trophies, a tenure than began when Prince Ali was just 22 years old. Now 39, Al Hussein is ready to step up to the challenge.
Al Hussein isn’t a prince like “Purple Rain” Prince or Kevin-Prince Boateng. He is actually of royal stock. The son of deceased former Jordanian monarch King Hussein and Queen Alia, Prince Al Hussein can hardly be considered a man of the people, especially not on paper. At 23, he was running the Jordanian football federation instead of looking for entry-level positions at Citibank. He joined FIFA’s infamous executive committee in 2011, but despite having the pedigree of a man wired to lack shame or any sense of propriety, Al Hussein has not been connected to any infamy since joining the governing body. Considering FIFA, that’s an amazing feat.
Contrary to tired stereotypes about the Arab world and Arab men, since he’s been with FIFA, Al Hussain has been instrumental in the fight for women’s right to play, a claim that his opponent can’t quite make with a straight face. Al Hussain was on the frontline fighting to eliminate the ban on women choosing to wear hijabs during matches, taking the position that the ban was unfairly driving Muslim women away from the game.
The FIFA vice president’s reputation is relatively sparkling within the governing body, something that led to early speculation about his future at FIFA. Asked a few years ago if he was interested in running for FIFA’s top position, Al Hussein responded:
“No, definitely not. I have absolutely no ambitions in that respect. I have tremendous respect for the other candidates. For me, I am focused on my continent. I just want a candidate who has a program, one that is working for the future. That is the candidate I will support. It should not be about politics, it should not be about geography, it should be about who is best suited to be in that job. It has to be a program that they can actually deliver on, not just to campaign on.”
That was then. Apparently, either Al Hussein was being dismissive of the idea for political expediency, or he now thinks he is the best candidate for the job.
Now Al Hussein will have to use his political capital to topple the President for Life. In the world of FIFA, that’s where it seems a person’s values are really tested.