Can Jordan's Prince Ali Really Dethrone Blatter?

That’s the question on the lips of many the day before FIFA’s Congress votes for the next president of soccer’s world governing body for the next four years. 

To be sure, Prince Ali bin al Hussein’s chances of overtaking incumbent Sepp Blatter’s bid for an unprecedented fifth consecutive term as FIFA president have certainly improved in the wake of Wednesday’s arrests of 14 people in the U.S. and Switzerland, including nine current and former soccer officials. 

For example, UEFA, Europe’s 54-member strong confederation, has now called for the presidential vote to be postponed. In an interview, Michel Platini, the organization’s president, revealed that he recently begged the Swiss to step down, but Blatter replied that it was “too late.” As a result of Wednesday’s events, Platini said, "A big, big, big majority of the European associations will vote for Prince Ali. People have had enough, they don't want this president any more."

The Frenchman also suggested that if Blatter remains in power following Friday’s election, then UEFA, by most accounts the strongest of FIFA’s six confederations, could consider boycotting future FIFA events, including the World Cup.  

Separately, English FA chairman Greg Dyke told Sky Sports there is now genuine belief that Prince Ali could potentially stop Blatter from winning a fifth term. "Prince Ali was pretty confident before the events of yesterday, I suspect he's even more confident now. I think Prince Ali could win, in which case we've achieved what we came here to do which is to say goodbye to Mr. Blatter."

Yet, despite the tough talk and pep-rallying from largely Western and democratic countries, Blatter still remains the overwhelming favorite to win Friday’s vote. 

Why? Because the African (CAF) and Asian (AFC) confederations are pretty much guaranteed to reelect him, having already reaffirmed their support for Blatter despite Wednesday’s corruption scandal.

With 54 votes, the CAF is the largest of FIFA’s confederations, followed by UEFA with 53, and the AFC with 46. Combined, these confederations account for 75 percent of the total vote of 209. Even if every single UEFA member-delegate votes for Prince Ali, Blatter is already looking at close to half of the vote (100) with the full backing of the CAF and AFC. 

And while the richer countries from Oceania (Australia and surrounding island countries), CONCACAF (North and Central America as well as the Caribbean) and CONMEBOL (South America), have mostly pledged their support for the Jordanian, it is highly unlikely that the poorer countries from South and Central America will not support Blatter, too.

Given that Blatter showers each of FIFA’s member countries with World Cup money every four years in addition to paying generous grants to their national associations annually, it will be very, very difficult (read: virtually impossible) for Prince Ali to overtake the Swiss in Friday’s vote.

Unless, of course, the member delegates are smart enough to realize that they too need change, because big, big trouble is on the horizon when FIFA’s top corporate sponsors like Visa, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Budweiser and McDonald’s all speak out against this latest corruption scandal. If FIFA becomes a dirty word to most of the world’s citizens, sponsor money could soon disappear. Then so, too, might the global appeal of FIFA’s cash cow, the World Cup. 

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