KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- FIFA reform campaigner Jamie Fuller has taken aim at both FIFA election overseer Domenico Scala and presidential contender Sheikh Salman ahead of the world football federation’s ballot on February 26 in Zurich.
Scala is the Swiss businessman who heads the FIFA electoral commission, the audit and compliance committee and who produced a blueprint for many of the governance reforms to be put before congress.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, head of the Asian confederation, was considered the front-runner in the five-man contest to succeed disgraced and banned Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.
However his status as favourite has come under pressure from the momentum being gathered, in the Americas in particular, by Gianni Infantino, Swiss general secretary of European federation UEFA.
Simultaneously, issues concerning the financing of Sheikh Salman’s previous election campaigns have been raised by media reports in France and Germany.
The 50-year-old FIFA vice-president has always vehemently denied any wrongdoing, also those made in connection with allegations concerning a crackdown on human rights protests in his native Bahrain in 2011.
Fuller, co-founder of #NewFIFANow and chairman of the SKINS sportswear companies, has submitted to FIFA five questions which, in his opinion, “go to the heart of the integrity of the FIFA presidential election campaign.”
In a blog on his personal website Fuller opened by saying: “It defies logic that we have a frontrunner . . . who is exposed to the most serious allegations of human rights abuse.”
But these allegations were not the only issue for concern.
Fuller continued: “It is also alleged that, in 2009, he dipped into the FIFA GOAL [development] funds to fund his attempt to get on to the FIFA executive committee.”
He also quoted concerns about Sheikh Salman’s conduct in an Asian confederation election in 2009.
His five questions ran as follows:
1, Which version of events is correct about Shaikh Salman’s role in the crackdown on ‘Arab Spring’ protesters in Bahrain? Did Sheikh Salman lie when he denied the commission of inquiry even met?
2, How did Sheikh Salman fund his 2009 [AFC] campaign against Mohamed Bin Hammam? At any stage, were GOAL monies used?
3, Has [ethics committee member] Les Murray’s allegation of vote rigging been investigated? If it was, the findings should be made public.
4, What information did Domenico Scala take into account in assessing the presidential candidates as fit for office whilst supervising the integrity tests? and
5, In the interests of transparency, and [Mr] Scala’s own reputation, why does he not immediately release the information on which he based his assessment for all candidates?
In fact, Fuller then reveals that his aggressive strategy is based in the hope that, even at this late stage, the FIFA election has to be postponed “due to another ‘swoop’ from US and Swiss authorities.”
This, he added “would allow world football to get on with what it needs – an external independent FIFA reform commission led by an eminent person in governance to review, develop and implement reforms throughout world football via a time-limited administration.”
FIFA has undertaken two attempts at reform in the past years. The first, led by Basel governance expert Mark Pieth, resulted in the creation of a new ethics system which inflicted eight-year bans on both Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini for financial misconduct in office.
The second attempt, chaired by former IOC director-general Francois Carrard and leaning substantially on a draft from Scala, generated a number of further proposals being put before FIFA’s extraordinary congress on February 26.