INTERVIEW: HRH Prince Abdullah on expanding Asia’s role in FIFA

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2013 AFC Annual Awards

Vice President HRH Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah of will next week learn his fate after nominating himself for one of three Executive Committee positions to be voted on at the AFC Congress in Bahrain.

Football Channel spoke with the experienced football administrator to discuss a number of topics ahead of next week’s vote.

In Part One of this exclusive interview he talks to FCA about his personal ambitions and vision for greater Asian representation at FIFA and on Prince Ali’s nomination for FIFA President.

FCA: You’ve nominated for the FIFA Executive Committee; can you explain firstly why you have decided to do so and what you think you can bring to that role?

PA: It has been a dream of mine to be a part of FIFA since I was very young. I have so much to offer and I think I would be a good fit and support to FIFA and AFC. I am committed to win this election to be able to serve Malaysia and the rest of Asia to the best of my capacity.

I intend to serve as a good team player on a global scale while working with the FIFA and AFC presidents to bring Asia to where it belongs; a world superpower in football. I also want to propose that we are accorded a higher allocation in the number of seats for FIFA to ensure a bigger voice for Asia.

As the next FIFA ExCo member, I believe I will have more clout to lobby to obtain more resources to develop all aspects of football, including development, administration, technical, coaching, referee and of course youth and women’s football development.

FIFA has come under intense scrutiny for the way it operates, what do you think needs to change to restore confidence in FIFA and how would you play a role in that?

I feel that it important to examine any issue in its entirety and, transparency is important. FIFA statutes must be followed and I am committed to ensuring this should I win. Perhaps, we should also look at engaging some of the stakeholders to study and come up with better methodologies for accountability and transparency in FIFA. In any body, there’s always room for improvement.

How confident are you that you will be elected to the FIFA ExCo?

The way things stand, I am very confident. I believe all the MAs are aware of my experience and what I bring to the table. They know they can depend on me to get their voices heard and that I’m a team player.

In your manifesto you talk a lot about wanting to work to grow the representation of Asia within FIFA. At what levels do you feel Asia is currently under-represented within FIFA; is it just the ExCo or broader, and how specifically do you go about growing that representation?

It is the ExCo of course, as representation is crucial in ensuring our voices are heard along with being a part of the decision making process in policies affecting Asia, being the largest continent. However, I also would like to be a part of the process to bring about more Asian places in the World Cup.

It would also be great to also have more Asians in technical, women’s football and development committees as these are crucial to growth of Asian football.

The FIFA Presidential election campaign is also in progress and there is an AFC member in the race in Prince Ali. Isn’t it incumbent upon the AFC to support one of its own ExCo members and what message does it send that the AFC appears so divided?

I have always said that we should support the most qualified person and that this is a democracy where anyone is free to contest and any country is free to choose their preferred candidate. I don’t believe that AFC is divided; it is a matter of perception. In my opinion, as it stands, we are united in our commitment to the future of Asian football.

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