The timely declaration from Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein that he will challenge Sepp Blatter for the presidency of Fifa is the most welcome news yet for sport in 2015.
The hope is that in Zurich in May, the prince will ascend to the throne of world football, assuming proper governance of a game embedded in sleaze and corruption.
Yesterday he made no bones about what needs to happen to world football’s governing body. “Reform is crucial,” he insisted. “I was the first to ask for the Garcia report to come out. We should have nothing to hide.
“Fifa as an organisation tends to be a bit secretive, but we should be confident and happy to be open and engaged with everyone. I don’t see a reason to be guarded. We have to bring the administration of sport into the current time we live in. I want to bring back that confidence.”
These are game-changing times for slippery Sepp. Surely he has had his day, and there is some speculation that he may now withdraw to spare himself embarrassment if support for Prince Ali escalates.
But can the Jordanian really unseat Blatter? The bookies say the odds are against it, as the Asian Football Federation apparently back Blatter. But those close to the well-connected prince say he would not stake his reputation on such a fight if he did not believe he could win it.
Yesterday he outlined an election strategy which will give him a fair idea where he stands. “In the coming months, I will be looking to sit down and talk to all our member associations and listen to them,” he said. “I’m not coming in to dictate. I have my ideas, but I have to hear back from my colleagues.”
Three months after Fifa’s ballot, a good lord looks set to become the new ruler of one of sport’s other major ruling bodies, the International Association of Athletics Federations. Sebastian Coe is the favourite to become head honcho of an equally troubled global pursuit upon which scurrilous chemists and cynically cheating athletes continue to leave such indelible scars.
If both Ali and Coe could win, a welcome breath of fresh air would waft through world sport’s fusty corridors.
From a prince to a King, who wants to plonk himself back on the throne of world heavyweight boxing. At 83, Don King (below) is manager/promoter of the new WBC champion, Bermane Stiverne.
Should the Canadian make a successful defence against the thunder-punching American Deontay Wilder in Saturday’s BoxNation-televised set-to in Las Vegas, the shock-haired one will be back big-time, assaulting our ears again no doubt with his high-volume verbosity.
Trust in youth
The presence of Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health minister, and former Tory sports minister Sir Hugh Robertson at a House of Lords launch next Wednesday suggests cross-party support for a much-needed new deal for schools sport proposed by the Youth Sport Trust.
The YST’s “Unlocking Potential” will call for emphasis on more physical education and competitive sport to be implemented by whoever wins May’s general election. “It is in no sense political,” chair Baroness Sue Campbell says. “Reversing the growing levels of physical inactivity among the young is a seismic challenge. It is an opportunity to improve the nation’s health and provide a platform for sporting excellence.”
a.hubbard @independent.co.ukReuse content