ZURICH: New allegations of election favours within international football are the subject of questions from critics of world federation FIFA less than two weeks before it elects a presidential successor to disgraced and banned Sepp Blatter.
The latest issue swirls around elections involving Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the head of the Asian confederation and who was the early front-runner in the FIFA power chase.
His most threatening rival is Gianni Infantino, the Swiss general secretary of the European federation UEFA.
Questions are being raised by campaigning MP Damian Collins concerning the support Sheikh Salman has gained in the past from the Olympic Council of Asia, the regional body which is headed by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwait sports powerbroker who holds senior positions within the Olympic movement and is a fellow member of the FIFA executive committee.
Correspondence reportedly viewed by a number of news organisations links the football federation of Kyrgyzstan with requests for OCA financial and development support during the run-up to the AFC presidential election.
Sheikh Salman scored an overwhelming victory despite complaints by one of his rivals, Yousuf Al Serkal from the UAE, of undue influence having been exerted by the OCA.
Four years earlier similar complaints had been levelled by Les Murray, an Australian member of FIFA’s ethics committee, over allegations about excessive and inappropriate OCA support for Sheikh Salman in an AFC election for a place on the world federation exco.
On that occasion Sheikh Salman was unsuccessful in challenging long-time AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam. Vacancies occured two years later at the head of the AFC and on the FIFA exco after Bin Hammam was banned for life from football over unrelated offences.