My Father, the Late King Hussein, and FIFA

[07-02-2016 02:25 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein - What will a new beginning mean for world football? It represents a chance to get things right, to set up FIFA as an organization dedicated to serving the game and the people who play it,Huffington post Published.

Journalists have asked a great many questions during the presidential campaign, covering everything from regional concerns to the headline-grabbing troubles that have plagued the world governing body this last year.

Invariably, they ask why I want to be the next president of FIFA. The answer is straightforward: It's about bringing good governance, transparency and accountability to the organisation.

But in truth, that is only part of the answer. The complete picture is more complicated, and has much to do with my life's journey, which began 40 years ago in Jordan during a decade of oil crises and instability across the Middle East.

My mother was lost in a helicopter crash in the country's capital, Amman, in 1977, little more than two years after my birth. So you will understand when I say that my father, King Hussein, played a significant role in my upbringing.

He had a massive workload, but was never an aloof or distant figure in my life. His children mattered to him a great deal.

He, too, was lost to my family on February 7, 1999, not long after my 24th birthday.

My father was a great believer in education, but believe me when I tell you that no amount of schooling can prepare a young man for the question of how to honor a father's memory and legacy.

Jordan lies within arguably the most politically unstable region in the world. Throughout his reign of more than 45 years he was never afraid to tackle conflict, but built his international reputation around his relentless pursuit of peace and reconciliation right up until his death.

Jordan was never blessed with the natural wealth enjoyed by many of its neighbors. It lacks fresh water, and good arable land is scarce. This was, and still is, a major challenge. But the nation built a future around its people and, while the ongoing regional turmoil has created major problems, Jordan continues to follow my father's guiding principles under King Abdullah.

These are no minor achievements in a wider region wracked by bloodshed and civil war.

My father had a disarming honesty and unwavering integrity. He built a future for his nation around his guiding principles. I saw him do it. We are not talking textbook theory here. His decisions affected lives and livelihoods, and I watched him lead Jordan through a geopolitical minefield.

I am proud to say his principles have provided a roadmap for my own life. I share his tenacity and, like him, never give up.

I have served my country, both militarily in its Special Forces and as director of the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management, as well as in other capacities. I have helped to build programmes to support the influx of Syrian refugees. Football has been a love of mine since childhood, and I have served the game for a good many years. I am passionate in my belief that football can be a force for good across the globe.

In 2012 I founded the Asian Football Development Project to promote the game among the continent's young people. The project has extended the reach of football to some of the poorest communities in Asia. The salary from my four years on FIFA's executive committee went to support its work.

So, when journalists ask why I want to be the next president of FIFA, I tell them it is about delivering good governance, transparency and accountability. But, for me, it is about so much more. A world of possibilities lies ahead. I see how great FIFA could be.

I reject the notion that FIFA cannot be reformed from within. The crisis at FIFA is a crisis of leadership.

This is all about the future. It is about making bold decisions and building an enduring organization that values and cares for its players, from the young boys and girls who kick a home-made ball around a rock-strewn, dusty pitch, to the game's professionals. It is about developing the game for the greater good, nurturing the youngsters who represent not only the future of football, but the future of FIFA.

It is about supporting developing nations, ensuring that football becomes a global unifying force.

FIFA must abandon its bunker mentality and open its doors to change. We are talking structural reform, a commercial overhaul, a renewed focus on development, a fresh focus on football.

There is no room for cynicism. Football has the ability to change lives. It teaches self-discipline and the value of hard work. It encourages teamwork. It empowers youth. FIFA has a social responsibility to manage the game with dignity and honesty.

The organization must be rebuilt to be deserving of respect.

FIFA cannot change the past. Nor can it prevent repercussions from the turmoil of the past year. But that must not divert the organization from charting a fresh course.

This is not the time to be playing politics with the future of FIFA. Its 400 diligent staff must be acknowledged and supported to be the best they can possibly be.

Very simply, it is about improving what is right about FIFA and fixing what is wrong. It is time for the organisation to emerge from the shadows and make a fresh start.

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