(WFI) INSIDER understands that FIFA’s ethics committee has examined allegations of human rights abuses facing presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa as part of its integrity checks.
FIFA is under mounting pressure to reject the candidacy of the Asian Football Confederation chief following claims by several human rights groups that Sheikh Salman chaired a special committee that targeted athletes who took part in the 2011 anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain. More than 150 athletes and officials were reportedly arrested, some of them tortured and imprisoned. Sheikh Salman denies wrongdoing and has labelled the allegations “nasty lies”.
INSIDER is told that “comprehensive documentation” on each of the seven FIFA presidential candidates has now been handed over to Domenico Scala, chair of the ad-hoc electoral committee, following completion of the 10-day integrity check phase of the electoral process.
“Any relevant information that is legally available has been considered,” a source close to FIFA said, adding that this covered “any problem in careers, professional problems”.
Asked if this included allegations of human rights violations facing Sheikh Salman, he said: “Of course this must have been the case. Of course this is relevant information.”
The other six candidates in the FIFA presidential race are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Liberia FA president Musa Bility, former FIFA deputy general Jerome Champagne, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, suspended UEFA boss Michel Platini and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale.
INSIDER is told that while each candidate has been rigorously assessed, FIFA’s ethics committee has not made any recommendations to Scala’s electoral committee, which is apparently beyond its remit.
Scala’s panel is convening this week to review the dossiers, which will be used to make its final decision on which candidates to put through for the Feb. 26 election.
The electoral commission can ask further questions to the candidates if it so wishes. But this is unlikely given the thorough job carried out by the ethics committee’s investigatory arm led by Cornel Borbély. INSIDER is told the dossiers are “absolutely comprehensive… no need for enhancement.”
The announcement on whether Salman and the other six candidates have passed integrity checks and can be admitted to the next phase of the race is expected this week or early next.
Any presidential hopefuls judged to be ineligible have the right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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