FIFA candidate Salman denies British MP's allegations

Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:35am EST
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By Simon Evans

ZURICH (Reuters) - British Member of Parliament Damian Collins used parliamentary privilege on Tuesday to accuse FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of taking development project funds to finance an election bid.

The claims, made in a speech in the U.K. House of Commons, were swiftly rejected by Salman who is battling Gianni Infantino, the Swiss general secretary of European soccer body UEFA, and three other candidates for the top job in world football.

Conservative MP Collins, a supporter of the campaign group 'New FIFA Now', made the allegations relating to Salman’s attempt in 2009 to be elected to the FIFA executive committee and his 2013 successful election to the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation.

FIFA will vote on Friday for a new president to replace Sepp Blatter, who has been banned from the game for eight years.

Collins, who made his allegations in the form of a petition in the House Of Commons, alleged Salman had misused FIFA funds meant for developing football.

"In August 2009 Sheikh Salman, then Bahrain FA president, was accused of using FIFA financed sports development budgets to fund his unsuccessful campaign for FIFA executive committee election," Collins told parliament.

"In a leaked letter received by the Al Bilad newspaper it was claimed that Sheikh Salman had spent upwards of 850,000 dinars (1.6 million GBP) on his campaign and that some of his money had come from FIFA financed football development projects,” said Collins, citing two FIFA 'GOAL programs'.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify Collins's claim regarding the newspaper report and the leaked letter. It was not clear who was the author of the letter.   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