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Sepp Blatter rival Prince Ali pledges World Cup expansion in last-ditch FIFA bid

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein: One of three remaining challengers for Sepp Blatter's presidency
Image: Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein: The last remaining challenger for Sepp Blatter's FIFA presidency

Sepp Blatter's last remaining rival for the FIFA presidency has released a new manifesto pledging to expand the World Cup.

Prince Ali Bin al Hussein of Jordan is now the only man standing between Sepp Blatter and a fifth term in office after Luis Figo and Michael van Praag both withdrew from next week's ballot.

Van Praag has endorsed Prince Ali, while Figo departed the race with a scathing assessment of the entire process.

And now Prince Ali has issued last-ditch alterations to his manifesto, chief among them a plan to add four more teams to the current 32-team World Cup format - starting in Russia in 2018.

His manifesto states: "A commitment to extend the number of countries participating in the World Cup from 32 to 36 teams as soon as possible, with a view to further, development-led expansion to be considered thereafter.

"I am committed to exploring all options to enable this expansion urgently, ideally in time for the 2018 World Cup."

The pledge, along with a proposal to give each member association at least $1m a year, could be read as an appeal to Blatter's traditional voting strongholds of Africa and Asia.

Prince Ali is also proposing future FIFA presidents be limited to two four-year terms, and his new manifesto has the backing of Van Praag.

Figo, meanwhile, has dropped out after failing in his bid to force a public debate between all the candidates.

"This electoral process is anything but an election," he said in a statement. "This process is a plebiscite for the delivery of absolute power to one man - something I refuse to go along with."

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