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FIFA presidential candidate Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan was expected to fly into the country last night to meet with Government and the Zimbabwe football leadership as part of his campaign trail on the continent ahead of the world soccer governing body’s elections in May.

The global football family will converge in Zurich, Switzerland, on May 29 to choose a new FIFA president and Ali is one of the candidates who have thrown their names into the hat to challenge incumbent and long-serving FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Ali, who is expected to fly out later this evening, is expected to pay courtesy calls on Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa.

The 39-year-old president of the Jordan Football Association, who is flying on a private jet, will also meet ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube.

Principal director in the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture Benson Dube last night confirmed that Ali would meet with Government officials.

“He will pay a courtesy call to the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture and also meet with the ministry officials and I understand he will meet with ZIFA but the ZIFA people are best suited to discuss that,” Benson Dube said.

ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said Ali would during his meeting with Cuthbert Dube try and sell his manifesto to the local football body.

“He will take time to meet with the ZIFA president to present his manifesto as you know FIFA elections are coming. Beyond that people will then meet in Zurich for the elections.

“Prince Ali is also the president of the Jordan FA and he may want to discuss some bilateral issues between the two FAs,” said Mashingaidze.

Mashingaidze also said he had been made to understand that Ali, just like other FIFA presidential candidates, is set to visit a number of countries in Africa and around the globe to try and canvass for support ahead of the May 29 poll.

Blatter has been FIFA president since 1998.

After a series of integrity checks, Blatter’s place on the list was confirmed together with that of Portuguese legend Luis Figo, chairman of the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) Michael van Praag and Ali.

“Following the required regulatory assessments, the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee has today (Monday, 9 February 2015) formally admitted and declared the candidates eligible for the election of the office of FIFA President at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on 29 May 2015,” a FIFA statement read when the candidates were confirmed.

“The candidates admitted and declared are Joseph S. Blatter (Switzerland), HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein (Jordan), Luis Figo (Portugal) and Michael van Praag (The Netherlands).

“Each of them underwent an integrity check by the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee in accordance with article 8 par. 1(e) and article 15 par. 2 of the Electoral Regulations for the FIFA Presidency (“Electoral Regulations”).

“Annexe 1 of the FIFA Organisation Regulations outlines the provisions according to which such integrity checks are conducted,” FIFA said.

However, it is Ali who is being touted as the biggest challenger to Blatter’s bid for a fresh mandate at the helm of FIFA.

According to the reports, Ali comes across as a candidate of impeccable pedigree and connections, and many of Blatter’s opponents are pinning their hopes on the Jordanian prince, who is FIFA’s vice-president for Asia, president of the West Asian Football Federation, which he founded in 2001, vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation and head of his country’s football association.

Ali has also hogged the limelight by being one of Blatter’s fiercest critics and was a leading voice in calling for the Garcia report into allegations of corruption surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids to be made public.

He has already received the seal of approval from some football royalty, including UEFA president Michel Platini.

However, despite his influential backers, Ali does not even have the support of his own Asian federation and this could prove to be his undoing in his bid to block Blatter from getting a fifth term at the age of 79.

“This was not an easy decision,” the Prince said in a single-page statement in which he pledged to run a positive campaign.

“It came after careful consideration and many discussions with respected FIFA colleagues over the last few months.

“The message I heard, over and over, was that it is time for a change,” said Ali, who enjoys the backing of some Uefa countries their president Platini.

Source : The Herald