Sheikh Salman for next Fifa president?

LONDON • Despite a growing storm of criticism from human rights groups, the Asian Football Confederation president, Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, has formally submitted his candidature to be the next Fifa president.

Sheikh Salman, who has been AFC president since 2013, submitted his application on Sunday after talks with the interim Fifa president Issa Hayatou in Cairo.

The Bahraini, who backed the outgoing incumbent, Sepp Blatter, in May's election, had previously pledged to support Uefa president Michel Platini's bid to succeed his one-time mentor but began to consider standing himself once the Frenchman was suspended by Fifa for 90 days along with Blatter.

His likely candidature had been heavily criticised by human rights organisations which accused him of "complicity in crimes against humanity" for allegedly heading a committee that identified 150 athletes involved in pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011 - many of whom were later imprisoned.

He denies the allegations.

Amid the ongoing turmoil at Fifa, five other candidates have declared they will stand and have submitted applications accompanied by the requisite nominations from five football associations.

Applications had to be submitted by midnight yesterday after which the candidates will undergo a so-called "integrity check".

They include Prince Ali Al-Hussein of Jordan, a former Fifa vice-president, and former Fifa executive Jerome Champagne.

The South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale and the former Trinidad and Tobago international David Nakhid are also standing.

Platini submitted his formal application hours before he was suspended by Fifa's ethics committee, putting his chances in doubt.

As a cover, Uefa yesterday pitched its general secretary Gianni Infantino - Platini's right-hand man - into the fray.

South Korea's Chung Mong Joon pulled out of the race yesterday due to a ban from the sport.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2015, with the headline 'Sheikh Salman for next Fifa president?'. Print Edition | Subscribe