Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein has responded to an Australian blogger who quiried whether the new FIFA Vice-President would represent all of Asia or increase the split between the east and west of football's largest continental organisation, the Asian Football Confederation.
Writing in the online version of Australia's Four Four Two magazine, Paul Williams observed: "As control of Asian football has slowly worked its way west, the noises have been getting louder for the confederation to split along east-west lines. When Prince Ali was elected to the FIFA ExCo at the AFC Congress in Doha in January, defeating long time member Chung Mong-joon of South Korea, it was seen as another victory for the west and a blow for the east. Over the past week though, Prince Ali has been doing his best to allay fears of a split, calling for a more united confederation."
Williams referred to the Prince's admiration for outgoing FIFA ExCo member Junji Ogura of Japan and quoted Ali's statement: "Everyone is a bit territorial. Everyone seems to be divided in Asia-my territory, your territory and so on. The more we interact, the more we can benefit from each other. I have four years and ... I will do all that I can to help Asian football. The thing is, I'm only 35 years old and my goal is really to serve Asia more than anything else."
However Williams then added: "The trouble is, and forgive my cynicism, talk is cheap. We've heard this kind of rhetoric many times before from those in positions of power and quite often it's come to naught. These guys are clever politicians and they know what needs to be said and when. Prince Ali has talked the talk and now he needs to walk the walk. I certainly hope he is a man of his word, as there is no doubt that there is a disconnect across Asia and a closer working relationship between all 46 member associations is needed if Asian football is to ever realise its infinite potential."
The next day Prince Ali had the following reply posted to the article's webpage: "Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your honesty and ideas. I do plan on walking the talk ... one step at a time ... I truly have faith in my colleagues and friends in Asia who will join me on this journey ... I have my ideas that I want to implement in the service of Asian football. Ideas that are based on programs. There are so many excellent professionals working in the football field in AFC and FIFA. But I am also fully aware of the fact that with any institution there can be resistance to change even if it’s for its own good ..."
Note: Ali has his own website at www.weareasia.com - where he says he is devoted to "connecting all Asian countries, no matter the size, no matter the means, and help them live up to their full potential."