KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Asian football head Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has submitted his formal candidature to become president of FIFA.
Sheikh Salman, president of the Asian Football Confederation since 2013 and a vice-president of the embattled world federation, is understood to have had his intentions confirmed after meeting Issa Hayatou in Cairo.
Hayatou, Cameroon president of the African confederation, took over as interim leader of FIFA earlier this month after long-serving Sepp Blatter was suspended from all football by the ethics committee pending an investigation into allegations of financial misconduct.
It is not known whether their talks involved discussions over African support for Sheikh Salman or was a formal courtesy call ahead of the closing by Monday evening of nominations for the election, to be held next February 26.
Sheikh Salman will be the sixth declared contender.
Already declared with the requisite five nominations are Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan (former FIFA vice-president), ex-FIFA official Jerome Champagne, David Nakhid (one time Trinidad international), Michel Platini (suspended president of European federation UEFA) and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale.
UEFA has yet to decide whether to ‘run’ another candidate in case Platini is not cleared of financial misconduct allegations of his own by the ethics committee in time for the extraordinary elective congress.
Sources close to the process have suggested that general secretary Gianni Infantino could be that ‘stalking horse’. His involvement would raise other issues since, whoever takes over from Blatter, might well consider Infantino a serious candidate for the role of secretary-general.
Current secretary-general Jerome Valcke is under suspension over misconduct allegations of his own and, in any case, had indicated that he expected to be leaving FIFA after the election.
Human rights concerns
A shadow hanging over Sheikh Salman’s prospective power bid concerns allegations by human rights activitists of complicity in the detention and torture of footballers and other athletes in a Bahrain crackdown in 2011.
These claims, which Sheikh Salman has always denied, were the subject of a complaint to FIFA by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy in 2014. It called for an inquiry by Michael Garcia, then FIFA’s ethics investigator.
Garcia responded that the Chamber’s jurisdiction was limited to violations under Code of Ethics provisions which did not embrace such issues. Hence he could take no action.
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