Monday,24 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1282, (11- 17 February 2016)
Monday,24 September, 2018
Issue 1282, (11- 17 February 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Africa for Salman

CAF has thrown its full weight behind the Bahraini who is running for the FIFA presidency, reports Abeer Anwar

Al-Ahram Weekly

The African Football Confederation (CAF) has decided to give its unanimous support to Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa who is running for FIFA’s presidential elections this month.

The Bahraini, who is president of the Asian Football Confederation and a FIFA vice president, is one of five candidates in the 26 February election to replace Joseph Blatter as the head of world football’s governing body.

Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, on 5 February, CAF said it had taken its decision after taking into consideration a number of issues concerning the arguments raised by the candidates when they presented their credentials to the Executive Committee of the African body. It said CAF, led by vice-presidents Suketu Patel and Almamy Kabele Camara, reviewed the aspirations and interests of the 54 member associations of CAF and the importance attached to the development of football in Africa, the profiles of the candidates, their successive managerial and political experiences in leading sports associations, and  the “recent happenings at FIFA and the absolute necessity to implement solid reforms in order to rebuild trust for the world’s umbrella football organisation”.

FIFA has been rocked by allegations of corruption, bribery and alleged vote-rigging as well as the organisation’s decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. The allegations led to the indictments of 14 high-ranking FIFA officials by the US Department of Justice on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.

In October 2015, FIFA President Joseph Blatter was suspended amid the investigation and in December the independent ethics committee of FIFA banned Blatter from taking part in any FIFA activities over the following eight years.

CAF President Issa Hayatou is currently the acting president of FIFA.

CAF said that “while respecting the principle of democracy, the sovereignty and latitude of each member association to vote for the candidate of its choice”, the Executive Committee urged all 54 member associations to reserve their votes for Salman.

Salman already has the backing of his own confederation while his closest rival, Swiss Gianni Infantino, the UEFA general secretary, has the backing of his European body along with the 10-member South American confederation, CONMEBOL.

Sheikh Salman said: “The two endorsements only mean that there is a strong groundswell in favour of my candidacy. What they don’t mean is that I can sit back and relax.

“Naturally, I am confident that I now have a reasonably strong position to work from with such support.”
The CAF Executive Committee also noted the withdrawal of South African Tokyo Sexwale from the race for the FIFA presidency “in order to support the interests and unity of African football”. Sexwale had failed to receive the support of his own confederation and had been advised to “discontinue his campaign”.

But Sexwale said: “The election goes ahead and I am a candidate. I have been sent by my own association in South Africa and I have presented the aspirations of many associations across the world who have nominated me.”

The CAF listened to presentations from Salman, Sexwale, Infantino and Frenchman Jerome Champagne, the former FIFA deputy general secretary, who had all travelled to Rwanda to attend the meeting. The fifth candidate, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, did not attend.

According to the BBC, as the head of the Asian Football Confederation, Salman is guaranteed to get the bulk of support from his own continent. However, the FIFA vote will be a secret ballot and the support of executive committees for candidates does not necessarily translate into votes.

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