Fifa presidential candidate Prince Ali of Jordan says he is “tough enough” to lead football’s world governing body.
He also insisted he could be trusted as he attempts to bring about “real change” at the crisis-hit organisation.
Fifa is under investigation into alleged corruption by some of its most powerful figures.
Asked if he had any skeletons in his closet, Prince Ali told BBC Sport: “I can guarantee that I am the right person for this job.”
Prince Ali is one of five contenders for the Fifa presidency, with the election to take place on 26 February.
Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale are also standing.
Prince Ali reiterated the election was Fifa’s “last chance to get it right”.
BBC sports editor Dan Roan spoke to the 40-year-old, who is president of the Jordanian Football Association. Here is an abridged transcript of the interview:
Dan Roan: Why are you the right man to be the Fifa president?
Prince Ali: “I come, first of all, from a national association. I understand development around the world. I served on the Fifa executive committee after I was elected by my continent to bring in a new phase, in order to do real change within the organisation. After four years I realised the only way to do it is to run for the presidency. I’m there to serve football and really take it into the 21st century, where it becomes a real service organisation for our national associations around the world.”
DR: You have served on the executive committee. Are you not part of the establishment? Does it not need someone from the outside?
Prince Ali: “I am from the national associations and I am a president of a national association. I do believe you can make the change from within football and I want to prove that’s the case. That’s why it is critical to have the right leadership coming in in February.”
DR: Why should we trust anybody who has a footballing background? People think, ‘let’s just have somebody from the outside world to start afresh’. Maybe we shouldn’t even have an election. Do you understand that point of view?
Prince Ali: “I do. That’s why I got into football in the first place – to make that change and that’s what I intend to do. Also, to have a new way of thinking, to be open to the world as well as to really work on what’s important and that is the development of the sport across the globe.”
DR: Is it right to have the election with investigations going on?
Prince Ali: “We have to have an election as soon as possible. With all respect, we have already wasted a year and we have to get on with the business of football and the only way to do that is to have a change in leadership. A leadership who will take full responsibility for what happens within the organisation. That’s what I intend to do.”
DR: In the summer, you couldn’t even get the support of your own organisation because the head of it voted for Sepp Blatter. What chance then that you can lead world football?
Prince Ali: “The reality is that confederations do not vote and I did get the support of 73 national associations from across the world and at a very difficult time.
“With a lot of national associations, a weight has been lifted. They are freer to make their own choices but then again it is not a confederation vote, it is every member association’s right to choose what they think is right for football.”
After beating Prince Ali in the May election, Blatter – Fifa’s president since 1998 – subsequently announced his intention to stand down and has since been banned for eight years following an investigation by Fifa’s ethics committee.
DR: Were you pleased to see Sepp Blatter banned?
Prince Ali: “I’m only focused on the future. I don’t want to talk about anything that happened in the past. I do believe that is the only focus we should have and I think that it is a critical time. This is about the whole footballing world and not about individuals.”
DR: Are you tough enough?
Prince Ali: “Of course I am tough enough and I come from a background in my own country of working in crisis management, something that we need in Fifa right now.”
DR: Are there any skeletons in your closet? Can you give us a cast-iron guarantee that we are not going to discover anything about you in the future that makes us think twice?
Prince Ali: “I can guarantee that I am the right person for this job. My track record is that I keep my word and I implement what I say.
“Hopefully, when I win this, judge me by my actions. The president has to take responsibility for himself and for the entire organisation.”
DR: You are a leader we can trust?
Prince Ali: “Yes.”