May 29, 2015 1:17:11 pm
The United States says it will vote for Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein for FIFA president Friday and not for incumbent Sepp Blatter.
“I’ve gotten to know Prince Ali well over the last couple of years. He has been a really active member of the executive committee and an active proponent of reform at FIFA,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said during a telephone conference call early Friday from FIFA’s meetings in Zurich.
“If you get good governance and good leadership, you make good decisions, and those good decisions will lead to the right outcomes,” Gulati said, “whether it’s where World Cups are played or how many teams are in World Cups or anything else. So for us, this is a vote for good governance.”
Gulati, a member of FIFA’s executive committee, said Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani told him Canada will vote for Prince Ali.
Football Federation Australia Chairman Frank Lowy announced he planned to vote for Prince Ali, and Michel Platini, president of the Union of European Football Associations, estimated at least 45 UEFA members may vote for Prince Ali.
FIFA has 209 member federations that will cast secret written ballots. A two-thirds majority is needed for election on the first ballot and a simple majority on the second.
“I think you’ll see a lot closer vote tomorrow than people would have projected some weeks ago,” Gulati predicted.
Elected in 1998, Blatter is seeking a fifth term. His reign has been plagued by corruption among top soccer officials, but he has not been implicated.
The U.S. government indicted nine soccer officials on corruption charges Wednesday, including the current and past presidents of the regional governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean. Seven men were arrested by Swiss authorities at a luxury hotel in Zurich.
Gulati called those “seismic events.”
“I don’t possibly have enough capacity for the amount of concern and emotion that the last 24 hours has created,” he said.
He was not concerned the fallout could harm a potential U.S. bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
“Would we like to host a future World Cup? The answer is of course yes,” he said. “But for me and for U.S. Soccer especially at this time but at any time, having CONCACAF and FIFA governed and managed with integrity is far more important than hosting a World Cup or any other event.”
Gulati said the status of the 2016 Copa America Centenario, a 16-nation tournament to be played in the U.S., will be determined in coming weeks. The indictments implicated the Traffic Sports and its affiliates in bribes, and Traffic owns media rights to the tournament.
“It’s premature to say what the final result of that would be,” Gulati said.
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