ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan said that soccer's governing body has been "decimated" by the recent wave of scandals and that he has heard from "many member associations" in the last 24 hours.
The German football federation (DFB) reacted with "great dismay" after the latest scandal to hit FIFA on Friday when
the Swiss attorney general's office (OAG) opened criminal proceedings against president Sepp Blatter on suspicion of criminal mismanagement.
The OAG said Blatter, who has been FIFA president since 1998, was suspected of a "disloyal payment" of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.04 million) made to UEFA president Michel Platini in 2011.
Platini, the favorite to win the election to replace Blatter on Feb. 26, was asked to give information as a witness, the OAG said. UEFA said the payment related to work Platini had carried out under a contract with FIFA.
"I have heard from many member associations over the last 24 hours, and what I have heard gives me confidence that, working together, we can emerge from this stronger," said Prince Ali in a statement.
"The need for new leadership that can restore the credibility of FIFA has never been more apparent.
"We cannot change the past, but we can have a future where FIFA member associations are able to focus on football rather than worrying about the next scandal or criminal investigation involving FIFA leadership.
"We have to accept that changing FIFA is not a matter of choice; it has already changed, shaken to its very core by the scandals that have decimated our governing body and cast a cloud over the entire organization."
Prince Ali, who avoided mentioning Platini or Blatter in the statement, lost to Blatter in May's presidential election, but the Swiss announced four days later that he would lay down his mandate as crisis engulfed FIFA.
"We have a duty to use our expertise, our experience, and our knowledge to lift that cloud by taking action to demonstrate that FIFA is worthy of the sport it oversees," added Prince Ali.
($1 = 0.9780 Swiss francs)
The DFB said in a statement that it was "stunned at the extent and seriousness of the accusations."
"German football in its entirety, from grassroots to the professionals, demands a quick and consistent clarification of all allegations and suspicions through the proper authorities as well as full cooperation of FIFA."
DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach sits on the executive committee which met on Friday, shortly before Swiss prosecutors searched Blatter's office and seized data.
Niersbach said that he and other committee members had not been informed of the "new turbulence" during the meeting.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, additonal reporting Karolos Grohmann editing by Pritha Sarkar)