Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa fears raised by human rights group
A human rights campaign group has written to FIFA's sponsors raising questions over the candidacy of Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa for the FIFA presidency.
Sheikh Salman, from Bahrain, is regarded as the favourite to succeed Sepp Blatter but the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has written to FIFA's eight top sponsors claiming he was "involved in the administration of politically motivated sanctions against footballers, athletes and clubs" in the country following the pro-democracy protests in 2011.
It claims Sheikh Salman was appointed to head an investigative committee mandated to identify and punish players who participated in the protests.
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Sheikh Salman has denied that the committee ever met or took any decisions and insisted this week he has no "skeletons in the closet."
Said a spokesman for Sheikh Salman: "The allegations are entirely false and categorically denied ... While it was proposed that Sheikh Salman lead a fact-finding committee in relation to the events of 2011, that committee was never formally established and never conducted any business whatsoever.
"For the record, and in light of the recycling of historic allegations in the media, Sheikh Salman had absolutely no involvement in 'politically motivated sanctions,' or the identification or punishment of any individual as has been alleged."
He was cleared in November to stand in the election by FIFA's electoral committee, which said it had assessed the allegations carefully.
"When people talk about skeletons in the closet, my closet is clear," the sheikh said.
"Some people have an agenda but it's a waste of time trying to answer them, and I think it has already been done by the proper bodies within FIFA and the AFC.
"There has been an integrity check and I don't have anything to defend myself about."
A Jan. 22 ESPNFC.com story included an incorrect photo. The photo should have been of Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain.