Rome, Italy; 23rd April 2015: HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, President of the Jordan Football Association and Vice-President of FIFA, yesterday met with His Holiness Pope Francis at The Vatican.
In the private meeting, Pope Francis and Prince Ali discussed various issues, challenges and opportunities regarding development of football around the world. Additionally, Pope Francis and Prince Ali discussed the ways in which sport and football can help to promote peace and social responsibility. His Holiness and Prince Ali shared ideas and found much common ground on a subject that is close to both of their hearts.
Argentine-born Pope Francis is well known for his love of football and has supported Buenos Aires-based team The Saints of San Lorenzo, one of the oldest clubs in Argentina, from a young age. Ahead of the opening match of the last FIFA World Cup, Pope Francis recorded a video message in which he called football, “a game and at the same time an opportunity for dialogue, understanding and reciprocal human enrichment”.
Pope Francis last year organised a special interfaith charity football match to promote peace, in which he welcomed past and present greats of the football world for the high-profile game at the Vatican.
Since becoming President of the Jordan Football Association in 1999, Prince Ali has worked to promote unity and develop the sport throughout the region, with a particular focus on youth football development and women’s football. In 2000, Prince Ali founded the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), which includes at present 13 countries (Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia). He continues to serve as President of the WAFF.
In January of 2012, Prince Ali founded the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), a non-profit youth commission headquartered in Amman, Jordan. Under his leadership, AFDP works to develop football across Asia with a focus on youth development, empowering women, social responsibility and the protection and evolution of the game. AFDP spearheaded the successful campaign to lift the ban on head scarves in football.
“I have been greatly inspired by Pope Francis’s work to use sport to build bridges between people of differing faiths and cultures,” said Prince Ali.
Prince Ali added: “Pope Francis is a true innovator in this regard; it was a great honour to meet with him not only in his capacity as the leader of one of the largest faiths in the world, but also in his capacity as a much-admired champion for peace, tolerance and inter-faith dialogue and understanding. Our discussions were very fruitful and we share a common vision of using sport as a force for good in the world.”
Prince Ali is a candidate for the Presidency of FIFA; his meeting with Pope Francis came with a little more than a month to go before the May 29th FIFA Presidential election.