Jordan's prince Ali bin al-Hussein and Dutch FA president Michael van Praag have both been approached by Kenya-based conmen, claiming to represent current FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and have been threatened with blackmail. The prince remains the only challenger to the South African in next week's FIFA leadership vote, after van Praag dropped out of the contest and switched his support to al-Hussein.
According to Singapore's The New Paper and Dutch daily De Volkskrant, the men claimed that they were in possession of sensitive information about both candidates that had been gathered by Blatter in a smear campaign, and demanded money from them in exchange for the information. They claimed that Prince Ali was investigated by an Indian-based security firm on behalf of the FIFA president's daughter, Corinne Blatter, claims which both have denied.
"I do not know who is behind this, but this is clearly an attempt to damage my father's reputation," Corinne was quoted as saying by The New Paper.
While spokespeople for both the prince and van Praag have confirmed that there have been multiple approaches, both individuals have attempted to handle it internally. "Our approach has been to try and set up meetings with these individuals so that we can assess them and the information they are offering to us," a spokesperson for the prince said.
The investigator who had allegedly worked on behalf of Ms Blatter to investigate prince Ali has denied all involvement. "I have no idea who would want to set me up, especially on such an elaborate scam as this," the unnamed investigator told The New Paper, before stating that he had never worked in any capacity for Corinne Blatter.
Meanwhile, the van Praag confirmed that he had received a mail which stated that Blatter had commissioned an investigation against him, for fear that the Dutchman might "stand against him in the future. The Dutch FA chief said that he had not replied to any of the emails because of how it might harm his image, before adding that he was unafraid as he "had nothing to hide."
The Dutchman dropped out of the race for the leadership of FIFA on Thursday along with Portuguese footballing great Luis Figo, leaving prince Ali as the only obstacle between Blatter and a fifth term as president. The Swiss-based international football organisation has been hit with a series of scandals recently, including claims of widespread bribery in the run-up to Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. The leadership vote will take place on May 29.