And now the awfulness of FIFA’s collectiveness can be revealed.
In a case of be very, very, careful of what you wish for, it seems the lead candidate to replace
corrupt shamed disgraced banned FIFA President Sepp Blatter is a very rich man who may be financially incorruptible but with a personal human rights record that is extraordinarily awful.
Introducing Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, President of the Asian Football Confederation and member of the Bahrain royal family. A man whose alleged behavior makes Mohammed Bin Hammam’s financial transgressions as AFC boss, FIFA Executive Committee member, and Qatar 2022 puppeteer look like… well… financial transgressions.
Sheikh Salman is cut from different cloth.
After the 2011 pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain that left over 30 people dead were suppressed by the government, human rights groups allege Sheikh Salman was involved in identifying athletes involved in the protests who were then imprisoned and tortured.
“The al-Khalifa family have overseen a campaign of torture and mass incarceration that has decimated Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement,” Nicholas McGeehan, of Human Rights Watch told The Guardian.
McGeehan’s key quote?
“If a member of Bahrain’s royal family is the cleanest pair of hands that FIFA can find, then the organisation would appear to have the shallowest and least ethical pool of talent in world sport.”
In 2011, following the protests, Associated Press reported that more than 150 athletes, coaches, and referees were jailed after a special committee chaired by Sheikh Salman – then head of the Bahrain Football Association – identified them from photos of protests.
Welcome to the football family.
Elected to the AFC Presidency in 2013, Sheikh Salman dismissed the allegations asking, “Do you have proof?”
As Associated Press reported in 2011, “the action against the footballers is part of a widespread government crackdown on dissent following protests that have resulted in journalists, bloggers, doctors, lawyers and activists being detained. More than 150 athletes, coaches and referees also have been suspended since April 5 for their alleged involvement in protests against the country’s Sunni rulers.
Sheik Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, the vice president of the Bahrain FA, acknowledged the three players have been detained but could provide no further information.”
This, apparently, is the best that FIFA (and also, it should be noted, the Asian Football Confederation) can do. Unlike Bahrain, however, the Presidential election is a democratic process, of sorts. So it is the national associations who will vote for the next President.
It is indicative that Asia’s members see no problem in Sheikh Salman considering his ascension to the ADC presidency. How about the rest of the world?