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Sun Dec 04 05:53:28 SAST 2016

Confederation of African Football (CAF) backs Sheikh Salman for FIFA presidency

AFP, Times LIVE | 2016-02-05 17:30:34.0
FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa attends an interview with Reuters in Panama City, Panama. File photo.
Image by: STRINGER / REUTERS

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said Friday it was backing Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa as its candidate for the presidency of FIFA.

"The executive committee decided that CAF will give full support to Sheikh Salman with his candidacy for FIFA presidency," CAF first vice-president Suketu Patel told reporters.

CAF second vice-president Almamy Kabele Camara said the decision was taken "unanimously".

Sheikh Salman, from Bahrain, is the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

According to The Guardian human rights organisations say Sheikh Salman was involved in identifying athletes involved in pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011, some of whom were then allegedly imprisoned and tortured.

“Since the peaceful anti-government protests of 2011, which the authorities responded to with brutal and lethal force, the al-Khalifa family have overseen a campaign of torture and mass incarceration that has decimated Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement,” said Nicholas McGeehan, the Gulf researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“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.”

Salman has denied the allegations. telling the BBC, "Such accusations are not just damaging, it's really hurting. Some people have agenda on their table."

"It's not just damaging me, it's damaging the people and the country.

"These are false, nasty lies that have been repeated again and again in the past and the present," said Salman.

CAF has 54 votes at the disposal, the most of any of the world's regional governing bodies, and four of the five contenders came to Rwanda's capital to find out who Africa wants as its standard-bearer.

CAF chiefs meet on the sidelines of the African Nations Championship tournament being played in Kigali.

Salman faces UEFA's number two Gianni Infantino, South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale, Jerome Champagne, a former assistant secretary-general of FIFA, and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan. The vote for football's top job is on February 26.

CAF has 54 votes at the disposal, the most of any of the world's regional governing bodies.

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