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Concerns over FIFA candidate

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COMPLICATED: The search for Sepp Blatter’s replacement as head of FIFA remains a controversial subject

COMPLICATED: The search for Sepp Blatter’s replacement as head of FIFA remains a controversial subject

Campaigners call for investigation over potential Blatter succesor

A rights group in Bahrain have written to a host of FIFA’s leading sponsors, asking them to consider their positions should Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa’s bid for presidency within world football’s governing body be successful.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has accused Sheikh Salman of attempting to supress the popular uprising in his home country in 2011, alleging that he was involved in the detention and torture of footballers.

According to a letter sent to Coca-cola, McDonalds, Visa, Adidas, Budweiser, Gazprom, Hyundai and KIA, the FIFA president candidate was previously appointed head of a committee which sought to punish players and team which supported the uprising.

He also reportedly headed a Bahrain FA meeting which ‘politically punished’ six clubs, with relegations and fines, after they requested suspension of football activities during the uprising over safety concerns.

According to an official press release at the time, Sheikh Salman’s Bahrain FA: “Highlighted the importance of abiding by the decisions of the Investigative Committee, which concern whomever has recently offended our leaders and precious kingdom, and the importance of excluding whomever is proven to have participated in these offensive acts, including administrators, referees and committee members of the Bahrain FA.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, BIRD, said the Sheikh had to be made accountable for his actions.

He said: “We hope FIFA’s sponsors consider our letter very seriously and respond immediately and appropriately.

“Sheikh Salman led the politicised punishment of clubs and denies the torture Bahraini players underwent. Coca-cola have called for an accountable FIFA. What happened in Bahrain was a black mark on its history, and Sheikh Salman must be held accountable for the part he played.”