LONDON, October 27 – Asian football chief and FIFA presidential contender Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa on Tuesday hit out at “nasty lies” which he said were damaging his campaign.
Bahrain human rights groups have accused Shaikh Salman of involvement in the arrest and torture of footballers when he was head of the Bahrain Football Association.
“These are false, nasty lies that have been repeated again and again in the past and the present,” the Asian Football Confederation president told the BBC in an interview.
“I cannot deny something that I haven’t done,” the 49-year-old added.
“Such accusations are not just damaging, it’s really hurting. Some people have agenda on their table.”
Shaikh Salman was head of the Bahrain FA in 2011 when scores of people were killed as security forces in the country put down mass Shia-led protests calling for reforms.
Rights groups say he helped identify players involved in the protests and did nothing to protect them from abuses.
“It’s not just damaging me, it’s damaging the people and the country,” Shaikh Salman added.
Shaikh Salman was among the late candidates who entered the race to succeed Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA on Monday in the hours before the deadline to submit bids passed.
With the numerical power of the Asian confederation he will be one of the leading contenders among the eight registered for the vote on February 26.
Shaikh Salman said he would not take a salary if elected and vowed to clean up scandal-tainted FIFA.
“With the support I’m going to get we’re going to turn it around very quick,” he promised.
“We have big examples of football organisations around the world – the Premier League, the Bundesliga, even UEFA who have from a football side and a revenue side, it is not even greater than FIFA, but it is handled in a very professional way. And this is what we want to bring to Fifa.”