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FIFA cannot be credible while Blatter leads, says Prince Ali

GENEVA -- FIFA cannot make credible changes in the last months of Sepp Blatter's leadership of the scandal-hit body, former presidential candidate Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein said Monday.

The Jordanian prince also doubted the worth of FIFA's in-house reforms task force which is supported by Michel Platini, his former ally and now front-runner to succeed Blatter in the Feb. 26 election.

"I don't think anybody will take any decisions that are credible in the current situation," Prince Ali told the Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday.

"I think that the important thing is that you need an overall change in leadership," said the prince, who described Platini as "not good for FIFA" when the UEFA president launched his campaign two weeks ago. "The entire football world would like to see a change."

Still, Prince Ali has not committed to making a second bid to be president and enact that change.

"Right now I'm talking to our national associations, listening to their opinions," said the prince, who got votes from 73 of FIFA's 209 member federations when Blatter won re-election in May.

Within four days, Blatter announced he would leave office under pressure from dual American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption that finally drove World Cup sponsors to demand a change of culture at FIFA.

Prince Ali could outline campaign plans on Sept. 7 as a keynote speaker at the Soccerex conference in Manchester, England.

"It's a place where I will obviously want to present my ideas for what I think is best for the organization," said the prince, who served as Asia's FIFA vice president for four years until May.

September shapes as busy for FIFA politics though the deadline for presidential contenders to file nomination papers is not until Oct. 26.

On Sept. 15-16, UEFA members who mostly supported Prince Ali against Blatter will meet in Malta and can expect to hear details of their president Platini's manifesto for FIFA.

Prince Ali declined to comment on possibly stepping on Platini's turf during that two-day session. It is one of few scheduled meetings where large numbers of FIFA voters will gather before the election congress in Zurich.

"I do hope that this time around it will be a good election," Prince Ali said. "The important thing is that there is a proper debate and things are based on a real platform."

On Sept. 24-25, Blatter will chair an executive committee meeting in Zurich where FIFA has promised "concrete and comprehensive reform proposals" from the task force whose 11-member lineup is yet to be announced.

Suggested reforms such as term limits for top officials, publishing their pay and stricter vetting of their integrity were rejected two years ago, when FIFA's then anti-corruption adviser Mark Pieth publicly criticized UEFA leaders for not supporting his work.

FIFA has now asked former IOC director general Francois Carrard to lead a team of officials put forward by the six confederations.

"We need to have a real and independent task force," said Prince Ali, who has cautioned that scandals scare away potential sponsors.

No major sponsor deal has been signed since the 2014 tournament in Brazil and none is expected before the presidential election, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said last month.

Long-time World Cup Sponsor Coca-Cola has called for an "independent, third-party commission" to drive changes, and McDonald's said "no meaningful progress can be made under FIFA's existing leadership."

"It is through the sponsors that we get the support we need for development work. We are all suffering at the national associations," said Prince Ali, who has led Jordan's football body for 16 years.

"If you have a FIFA where people have faith ... sponsors will be fighting to be part of it."

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