Norway’s football federation (NFF) and its president, Yngve Hallen, have decided to support Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan in Friday’s election at the scandal-plagued international football association FIFA. The prince is running against embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who has controlled the association since 1998 amidst corruption allegations that reached new heights this week.
“Prince Ali delivered a good speech and the leadership of UEFA (the European football association) asked us all to support him,” Hallen stated in a press release Thursday afternoon. “Given the situation in FIFA now, its credibility can’t be preserved with Blatter as top leader.”
Blatter is under new pressure after police arrested nine international football leaders while they were meeting for FIFA’s 65th congress in Zurich this week. Five more marketing directors in firms that buy or sell media and sponsor rights tied to FIFA were arrested in Miami in coordinated raids that stunned, if not necessarily surprised, the football world. Charges of corruption, especially bribery, have swirled for years in the big-money circles around FIFA. Now 14 FIFA officials are charged with extortion, bribery and tax evasion, particularly in connection with the awards for the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar in 2022.
Per Ravn, the former president of NFF and vice president of UEFA, had told newspaper Dagsavisen on Thursday that “it was high time for the ageing top leadership in FIFA to go.” Hallen had initially waivered on who NFF would support, drawing strong reaction from critics who told NRK it would be “directly embarrassing” if Norway supported Blatter. Voting for the leadership of FIFA is due to take place Friday amidst calls it be postponed because of all the arrests and corruption charges.