Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Football: Prince Ali says Fifa has 'one chance' to change

Fifa Presidential hopeful Prince Ali Hussein wants to save the beleaguered organisation - but warns that Fifa only has "one chance" to turn themselves around.

Hussein ran against Sepp Blatter last May, and is one of five candidates in contention for the vacant position, since Blatter was removed last month after a series of ethics violations.

The election will be held at Fifa's extraordinary congress in Switzerland next month.

The 40-year-old was in Auckland on the campaign trail and didn't mince words when asked about the current state of the world governing body.

"Fifa is in a critical situation right now and we need to fix that," said Hussein on Friday. "We have one chance coming in February. I believe we have wasted a year and we need to get it right. Fifa's reputation has suffered dramatically and that has affected everything. There is a real desire to get things back on track.

We need to reverse the pyramid, put the priorities of our players and fans on top and turn Fifa into a service organisation."

Hussein was in this country to meet with New Zealand Football board members, as well as NZF President Deryck Shaw and CEO Andy Martin. It's a long way to come - considering New Zealand has a single vote - but NZF publicly backed the Jordanian in May.

"I was very honoured to have the support of New Zealand the last time around," said Hussein. "It is very important to be here, to have talked to members of your board."

Hussein also indicated that Oceania should get direct entry into the World Cup, instead of the current playoff against another confederation. He said he would advocate for a new model of qualification paths.

"I'm totally against the idea of a half slot," said Hussein. "It's a real challenge not just for Oceania but also for Asia, Conmebol and Concacaf as well."

He supports the idea of a bigger tournament but added that it should not be an election issue.

"We have to look [at] how things are conducted within Fifa in terms of how decisions are made," said Hussein."[There is] room for enlarging the World Cup but that subject should not be brought up by a reform committee or during a Fifa presidential campaign."

Hussein added he was confident about the prospects for a 'clean' election, after the 'money for votes' scandals that have dogged every election since Blatter first came to power in 1998.

- NZ Herald

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