Before Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein was trying to unseat Sepp Blatter as the president of FIFA, he was a college kid running around the Princeton campus in a Real Madrid jersey.
At the time, he was also a classmate of former Tigers star and current New York Red Bulls boss Jesse Marsch, who was recently asked about the candidate for FIFA’s highest office (Al-Hussein re-declared his intentions Tuesday after Blatter announced his plans to resign).
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They haven’t been in touch since 1995, but Marsch’s impressions of the prince were strong and favorable.
“Prince Ali has always been a really smart guy, a really bright guy. When I knew him at Princeton, he was visible on campus but very integrated in campus. And liked being a Princetonian. Was Jordanian but also was very cosmopolitan. He spoke very good English, a very smart guy. A lot of experiences, a lot of international experiences. If you know Jordanians, they are very progressive people. I’ve been to Jordan, I’ve seen [it] first hand. I think Prince Ali is a good representative of what his people are like,” Marsch told Metro on Tuesday.
From his memories of Prince Ali, he thinks that Jordan’s prince is the right man to shake things up at corrupt FIFA.
“I think he’d be a great candidate. He was always into football when we were at Princeton. He’d wear jerseys occasionally – international like Real Madrid, stuff like that,” Marsch said.
“I think he’s represented himself really well in the campaign as a smart guy, as a guy who cares about the right things, a guy who won’t be influenced. I think he has a pretty good track record of being an honest, good, smart person even as a royal coming from Jordan. I think he’s a real guy and I think he’d be a steady hand to have in charge of FIFA.”
Marsch was paid $100,000 for those favorable comments, with crisp unmarked bills stuffed into an envelope labeled “POWER”.
We kid, we kid.
It’s an interesting time for FIFA, as all candidates will and should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism. FIFA’s had the old “absolute power corrupts absolutely” cliche operating at will under Blatter. Here’s hoping “the good of soccer” becomes a real concept for the next president and his assistants (not minions).