LONDON: Greg Dyke, chairman of the Football Association, has talked openly of his doubts about the candidacy of Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa as a worthy new president of world federation FIFA.

Sheikh Salman, head of the Asian confederation and a FIFA vice-president, is one of five candidates standing to succeed Sepp Blatter at an extraordinary congress in Zurich on Friday of next week.

Dyke has said Sheikh Salman should first address his alleged role in human rights violations which followed the pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain in 2011.

Sheikh Salman, who has been accused of “not protecting his players” by election rival Prince Ali of Jordan, has always denied responsibility and wrongdoing. But the issue has stubbornly refused to go away.

He skipped a proposed candidates’ forum in Brussels last month with criticis, including campaign MP Damian Collins, suggesting he wanted to avoid direct questioning about events in 2011.


Dyke told the BBC: “I think there is an issue about Bahrain. No one denies that there were violations of human rights involving sportsmen and footballers that went on four years ago – no one denies that. The denial is over whether or not he was involved.

“The question is, does it matter whether or not he was involved, or is it the fact, can you have someone from Bahrain running world football, in charge of world football, given what happened there four years ago? I personally have my doubts.”

However Dyke, who will step down as FA chairman in July after changing his mind about standing for a second term, denied the FA has already agreed to vote for Gianni Infantino.

He said: “We’re going to discuss this at the FA board this week and the board will decide. I went to the meeting at UEFA and we refused, we said ‘we are not telling you’. We came under a lot of pressure, there was a lot of pressure. There were half a dozen European nations who said ‘we’re not deciding today’.”

Dyke and the FA came in for criticism last year over their alacrity to offer support to UEFA president Michel Platini who was then barred from standing and subsequently suspended for eight years for financial misconduct in office.