FIFA presidential candidate backs Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan © Muhammad Hamed
The frontrunner for the FIFA presidency, Jordan's Prince Ali, has told reporters that if he is elected president the World Cups that were awarded to Russia and Qatar will still be held in those countries, despite multiple allegations of wrongdoing.

In a move designed to curry favor with voting members, Prince Ali is adamant that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will not be moved from the elected hosts. This is despite the criticism surrounding the 2010 vote that decided the location of the two World Cups, especially with regard to the Qatar 2022 tournament.

Allegations of bribery and corruption have been rife since Qatar won the bid in late 2010. Qatar has also faced criticism over the way laborers are treated, with conditions far from ideal for construction workers building the venues that will hold games in 2022. While conditions have steadily improved, Qatar has failed to reform the Kafala system which governs employers and their employees, and the poverty that the 1.4 million workers live in.
In comments made at a media briefing on Wednesday, Prince Ali said: "They [Qatar] have said they are committed to dealing with the issue of labor laws, but it has to be consistent."

Russia, meanwhile, has been provisionally banned from international athletics competition over alleged state-sponsored doping. The ban, handed out by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), could prevent Russian athletes from participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics unless reforms demanded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are implemented.

Prince Ali has said that as the doping claims do not relate to football, the World Cup will still be held in Russia in 2018. “We haven’t seen anything to do with football, we are focused on football," he said on Wednesday. If elected, he would talk to Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, himself a FIFA executive committee member, and "seek assurances", said the Guardian newspaper. At the media briefing, Ali told reporters, "I think that every country in the world has the right to host the World Cup."

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein is the third son of King Hussein of Jordan. He has positioned himself as a FIFA reformer, saying that if he is elected, he will open FIFA up and make it less secretive by publishing the minutes of the executive committee and making public the salaries of the president and other executives. His other proposed policies include adding more countries to the World Cup Finals – the number of teams currently stands at 32, but was last increased after the 1994 World Cup, when 24 nations took part.

Prince Ali is one of five candidates standing for FIFA's presidential elections in February 2016. The others are Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman, UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino, former FIFA executive Jérôme Champagne, and the South African candidate Tokyo Sexwale. UEFA president Michel Platini is unlikely to run for the position after he was suspended for 90 days in September 2015 following corruption allegations

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