MANAMA: FIFA presidential contender Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa is seeking to polish up his image ahead of the election by portraying himself as a supporter of reform.
Sheikh Salman has come under heavy attack from human rights activists over allegations concerning his role after the crackdown in Bahrain on pro-democracy demonstrators in 2011.
He has refuted the allegations as “nasty lies” and is seeking to counter any negative impressions by coming out in favour of the reforms package which the FIFA executive committee is recommending to an extraordinary congress on February 26.
In an interview with UK broadcaster Sky, Sheikh Salman said he was not surprised by the latest swathe of corruption indictments and arrests undertaken at the behest of the United States Department of Justice.
He said: “After the incidents last May I was expecting more to come, but it is mainly CONCACAF and CONMEBOL [the central and South American confederations], mainly a matter of those two confederations.
“You never know who is going to come next or what is going to happen. We know the investigation is going on. Let’s see what happens.”
Sheikh Salman insisted that, if elected president of FIFA in succession to Sepp Blatter, he would introduce integrity checks for FIFA executive committee members and work with the authorities.
He said: “If I am president and I get any information from a government source about anyone in FIFA I will take the decision right away. But we need the support of government. FIFA is not capable of doing the intelligence work and getting the information.”