Africa is part of my everyday life, my family’s blood. My
wife is African and my children can claim African heritage. The vibrant,
pulsating and uniquely diverse culture of Africa occupies a special place in my

So does Africa’s passion for football. As part of my
campaign to become the new President of FIFA, I have travelled extensively
across the continent and witnessed first-hand the African passion for the
beautiful game. It is a passion I share with the people of this vast continent.
And if elected president of FIFA, I will make it my personal mission to help
African football grow and thrive. I see no reason why the Mother Continent
whose terrestrial and maritime migrants built civilisations, cities and
communities in pre-historic times cannot also create history on the playing fields
of today.

Football is woven into the very fabric of African

From the young boys and girls honing their skills on dusty pitches to the
world-class footballers plying their trade in the cathedrals of the game
globally, football is the heartbeat of the continent. The quality and
attraction of the Africa Cup of Nations, as well the numerous African national
sides competing in the World Cup, fuel the dreams of those seeking to escape
troubled lives and a hardscrabble existence.

Africa is home to more than a quarter of the world’s
footballing nations. African players have lit up the game with renowned
footballers whose roll includes Roger #Milla, George #Weah, Tony Yeboah, the
Touré brothers and Samuel #Eto’o. Then there are those of African descent who
have become immortalised: Zinedine #Zidane, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry,
Nwankwo #Kanu, JJ #Okocha, Didier #Drogba, among them. And we’ve seen the
commitment and dedication of these footballers in giving back to the community — offering
beacons of hope for a new generation.

The African continent is the perfect example of the good
that football can do. From inspiring hope among the young, to supplying
memorable and unforgettable moments that light up lives, to helping bridge
chasms by uniting people behind a shared aspiration and instilling national
pride — football is the ultimate tool
for good.

However, despite the success African football has achieved,
I truly believe the FIFA of old could have done more to help the game in the
continent, and I am committed to bringing this about. I will continue to
support the good work FIFA has done in terms of “hardware”, such as investing
in stadiums, artificial pitches and infrastructure across the continent. But I
will also ensure that the “software” of rules, practices and ethics are of the
highest standard.
I will assess the needs of each nation on the continent,
from travel funds to coaching standards and medical assistance and I will help
them accordingly. No longer will there be a “one size fits all” approach. The
needs of the different African nations are as diverse as the land itself. I
cannot reiterate enough the importance of true assessment, of an in-depth
understanding of each individual Association’s needs. I will listen to all, and
work hand-in-hand with everyone to propel the African game to even greater

We need to put more funds towards coaching so that qualified
and experienced coaches can go to developing football nations, assist them as
well as gain valuable new skills and experience; building a scholarship
programme could be one way to do this.

The change begins with a FIFA Development Programme which is
transparent, fair, generous and flexible — and which delivers tailored
support where it is most needed. This is something I am committed to implementing.
I will raise the Financial Assistance Programme from $250,000 to $1m a year,
introduce FIFA regional development offices staffed by FIFA-employed
professionals, who can travel to National Associations to assess their
development needs, assist with funding applications and support in the delivery
of development projects and simplifying the development fund application

For years, there has been a cacophonous debate about World
Cup slots. Despite the excitement and the flourish with which African nations
have enriched the tournament, proposals around World Cup slots to date have
been designed to appeal to some confederations and some others have been
created to court votes. The same can be said about seats on the EXCO. Even
simple matters such as the international timetable is framed around a European
short-haul schedule, ignoring the travel times and accessibility that impact
Africa and other continents. This must change. It is time not only to imagine a
future in which African football dominates on the world stage; it is time to
lay the groundwork for it to happen, and nurture it together.

I believe I am particularly well-suited for this mission. I
am a National Association President from a developing country that, like many
throughout Africa, is full of passion but resource-poor and faces many
challenges. Like much of Africa’s youth, the young people in my country, too,
look to football as a route to a better life. I share their aspirations. I hear
their appeals. I am determined to help them realise their dreams.

I am not here to rock the boat. I am offering myself as a
candidate for the FIFA presidency to work with all in figuring out a better way
to make the institution function as it really should. After all, football
belongs to its billions of fans. Our duty at FIFA is to be trusted stewards of
the beautiful game. This I pledge to do. I fervently hope you will support me
in this quest.

Source: aKoma Media

-Ali Al Hussein #AliforFIFA
FIFA Presidential Candidate

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