Zurich: A Washington-based human rights group denounced Sheikh Salman`s bid for FIFA President on Monday (October 26), saying the Bahrani football official was involved in human rights abuses following the wave of pro-democracy demonstrations that swept that country in 2011.
"We believe that he should not be allowed to run for the presidency of FIFA, primarily for his role in the crackdown against protesters and athletes in Bahrain in 2011. Sheikh Salman was complicit in aiding and abetting crimes against humanity against the players of the Bahrain National Football team as well as other sports staff and athletes some of whom remain in jail or suspended from the game until this day," Kate Kizer, spokesman for Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) told Reuters.
Kizer said Salman served as chairman of a Bahrain commission that identified athletes for punishment for taking part in the 2011 protests.
"Sheikh Salam has repetitively denied these claims against him. There is solid evidence that he aided these crimes that lead to their torture in 2011 and I really don`t think it speaks to the ethics or meritocracy that FIFA was set up to govern this world`s loved sport and so him actually being a competitive candidate for the presidency is absolutely concerning to the rest of the football world," she added.
The group tried unsuccessfully to include the charges in Michael Garcia`s ethics report that examined the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.
"In 2013, ADHRB (Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain) wrote to the FIFA ethics committee asking for an investigation to be opened into these specific claims. Michael Garcia, the president of the ethics committee at the time, corresponded that it was outside the purview of the ethics committee to investigate these claims. We hope that with his official bid for the presidency, that FIFA will reopen an investigation into these allegations," Kizer said.
In 2013, Sheikh Salman was elected president of the Asian Football Confederation with the backing of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and has previously denied the claims against him.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said in a statement on Sunday it had offered overwhelming support to Sheikh Salman who had assured it "that his campaign will be entirely self-financed."
The Bahraini, closely allied to Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, one of the most powerful men in the Olympic movement, canvassed opinion from Asian associations last week.
Sheikh Salman will face another member of Arab royalty in the election as Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein has already submitted his nominations.
On Saturday, South African former Apartheid-era political prisoner turned businessman Tokyo Sexwale announced he would be standing in the election after winning backing from the South African Football Association.
Former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder David Nakhid says he has submitted his papers to FIFA along with former FIFA Deputy General Secretary Jerome Champagne and Platini. Zico, the former Brazilian World Cup player, has said he wants to stand but it is not known if he has been able to receive the necessary support.
FIFA has been rocked by the U.S Department of Justice`s decision on May 27 to indict 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives in a corruption investigation. Swiss authorities are also investigating FIFA while FIFA`s Ethics Committee has handed out several bans.