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 By PA Sport

MP calls for government to oppose FIFA bids if Sheikh Salman is elected

A member of Parliament called on the British government to not support any bids by the English Football Association to host FIFA tournaments if Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa is elected as president.

Tory Damian Collins said Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, who is one of the favourites to succeed suspended president Sepp Blatter in Friday's election, is himself involved in a new corruption scandal.

Mr Collins, a staunch campaigner on football governance, raised questions over Sheikh Salman's election as Asian Football Confederation president in 2013.

He said there were "strong grounds to suspect" that the Kyrgyz Republic's delegation to the confederation had voted for Sheikh Salman because they believed they would receive "significant financial support" for football projects from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the head of which is a "close associate" of the sheikh.

Issuing a denial, a spokesman for Salman last week told the Times that the claims were backed by no "credible evidence."

Mr Collins highlighted emails between the delegation and the OCA prior to the confederation's presidential election in May 2013, including requests for funding despite there being "no legitimate reason" for such requests.

The Folkestone and Hythe MP insisted the scandal needs urgent investigation and that if Sheikh Salman is elected FIFA president, the government should withdraw support for FA bids to host FIFA tournaments.

FIFA ELECTION COVERAGE ON ESPN

- Feb. 22-26, 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN): Outside the Lines
- Feb. 23-26; 5 p.m. ET (ESPN2): ESPN FC

- Feb. 26, 7 a.m. ET (ESPN2): SportsCenter
- LIVE on ESPN3: Feb. 26, from 2 a.m. ET

Using the device of a public petition to discuss the allegations in the Commons, Mr Collins said the petition notes that "prior to Sheikh Salman's election to the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in May 2013, details of the flights that the football federation of the Kyrgyz Republic (FFKR) delegation would be taking to and from Kuala Lumpur were emailed to the private account of the IT manager of the Olympic Council of Asia, of which a close associate of Sheikh Salman was head.

"That three days before the vote, requests for support for 53 projects for Kyrgyzstan football to the tune of millions of pounds were discussed, although there seems to be no legitimate reason for the FFKR, part of FIFA, to be seeking funding from the OCA, part of the International Olympic Committee.

"Notes that the FFKR approached the OCA again after the AFC election, asking when they would receive payment for their projects, which gives strong grounds to suspect that the FFKR voted for Sheikh Salman because they believed they would receive significant financial support from the OCA (the OCA officials appear to have met officials from the FFKR during the AFC vote in 2013).

"And believes that this is a fresh cash-for-votes scandal which needs urgent investigation.

"The petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to confirm that it would not support bids from the English Football Association to host FIFA tournaments should Sheikh Salman be elected as president of FIFA on Friday Feb. 26 2016."

Salman issued a fresh denial on Tuesday night.

A statement read: "Sheikh Salman has and had no knowledge whatsoever of any inducements offered, or of any payments made by the OCA to any football associations and absolutely no evidence has been forthcoming to show this to have been the case.

"Sheikh Salman won the 2013 AFC presidential election by a landslide, with 33 of the 46 votes. The other candidates received six and seven votes respectively. Shaikh Salman was clearly the overwhelming choice of AFC members."

An OCA statement released on Tuesday night read: "The OCA strongly denies these accusations, which are entirely without foundation."

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