Sheikh Salman positions as safe pair of hands in FIFA vote

Sat Jan 9, 2016 3:19pm EST
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By Simon Evans

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - In a FIFA presidential election where all candidates are presenting themselves as reformers, Asian soccer boss Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa is making his pitch as the safest option to officials beleaguered by the organization's crisis.

The president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has his own plans for change at world soccer's governing body, including splitting FIFA into separate ‘business’ and ‘football’ entities, and says reform is an ‘ongoing process’. (here)

He also wants to be a very different style of president to the man he supported for many years, the now banned Sepp Blatter. Salman sees the role as non-executive and wants to delegate rather than, what he terms, “micromanage”.

But, perhaps conscious of the fact that it is FIFA’s 209 member associations, and not public opinion, that will decide the next FIFA president at a congress on Feb. 26, Salman also strikes a slightly defiant tone when discussing the corruption crisis that has hit the governing body.

“I don’t believe what is happening in the rest of the world is FIFA’s mistake. We can’t blame FIFA for all that happens in football in the rest of the world,” the Bahraini told Reuters in an interview.

In total, 41 individuals and entities have been charged in the United States in a corruption sweep that has rocked soccer worldwide and sent FIFA into an unprecedented crisis.

Those officials charged come from the CONCACAF confederation which governs soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean and CONMEBOL which presides over South American football.

Salman believes it is unfair that FIFA itself has been tarnished by the behavior of confederation officials.   Continued...

FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa attends an interview with Reuters in Panama City, Panama, January 8, 2016.  REUTERS/Rafael Ibarra