Despite the presence of UEFA President Michel Platini and UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino among the candidates for the post of FIFA President, the Malta Football Association is one of the five associations who nominated Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan. This was revealed by MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo during a meeting of the Council of the Malta Football Association which was held on Tuesday where he explained the reasons behind the association’s decision.
Malta had already nominated Prince Ali, along with Belarus, England, Georgia and the USA back in January. In last May’s election, Prince Ali obtained 73 votes compared to Sepp Blatter’s 133. However just four days later, Blatter announced that he would be stepping down.
Norman Darmanin Demajo said that back in June 2011, the MFA intended to vote for Mohamed Bin Hammam but the latter had withdrawn from the presidential race just a few days before the vote over allegations of bribery. The MFA president said that at the time, he felt Blatter’s time was over and went on to reveal that Malta was one of seventeen countries who voted against him.
Darmanin Demajo said that last November, he spoke with UEFA President Michel Platini in the Netherlands, telling him that Blatter had to be contested. Platini replied that he did not want to run for the post.
The MFA was asked by UEFA to nominate Prince Ali in January as it seemed that other European countries, apart from England, Belarus and Georgia, were not at ease with declaring that they would be nominating another candidate for the post of FIFA President.
Darmanin Demajo said that in following months, Prince Ali had asked him to join him in a tour of the confederations attending the congresses of the Confederation of African Football in Egypt, Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football in Bahamas and the Asian Football Confederation in Bahrain but first wanted to seek UEFA’s permission to do so since there were other candidates for the post from Europe, namely Michael van Praag and Luis Figo. However he said UEFA backed him to support Prince Ali.
The MFA President said that it was only then that he started to know Prince Ali better – a courageous soft-spoken man, saying they had a lot in common, especially with regards to social responsibility. Darmanin Demajo said that on the eve of the FIFA Congress, in a meeting for UEFA delegates, he and Prince Ali were asked to address the meeting.
Two weeks later, Prince Ali phoned Darmanin Demajo to thank him and the two agreed on a friendly match between Malta and Jordan to be played in two weeks’ time. He also informed him
that he intended to run once again for the post of FIFA President. The MFA President said that he contacted UEFA and told them that there was no reason not to back him. Two days later, UEFA asked Darmanin not to rush in nominating Prince Ali as Michel Platini was considering submitting his nomination.
In August, UEFA asked all member associations to sign a document backing Platini’s nomination. However during last month’s Top Executive Programme meeting which was held in Malta, Darmanin Demajo told Platini that UEFA had put him in a difficult position as he had already promised Prince Ali to back him.
Norman Darmanin Demajo stressed that he was not comfortable in abandoning Prince Ali after giving him his word to back him. He said that things took a different twist after after the Ethics Committee provisionally banned Blatter and Platini for ninety days while presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon was banned for six years.
“On the 12th October, we submitted our nomination. We will support Prince Ali irrespective of what others may think. We are not afraid to say we nominated him,” said Darmanin Demajo.
The election will be held during an extraordinary FIFA Congress will be held in Zürich, Switzerland, on February 26, 2016.
The other candidates for the post, apart from Prince Ali, Michel Platini and Gianni Infantino are Asian Football Conference president Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, former FIFA deputy secretary general Jerome Champagne, South African businessman and politician Tokyo Sexwale, former Trinidad & Tobago midfielder David Nakhid and Liberian FA President Musa Bility.
Platini is currently banned from football, and an investigation into an allegedly “disloyal payment” he received from FIFA remains ongoing, but Platini has vowed to clear his name and did not withdraw from the race. It now seems likely that if Platini is cleared, he will be UEFA’s candidate and Infantino will drop out of the race.