Third human rights body calls for FIFA to investigate Sheikh Salman

SHAIKH SALMANBy Paul Nicholson, Editor in chief
May 1 - A third human rights organisation has written to FIFA president Sepp Blatter asking him to refer Asian Football Confederation presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa of Bahrain to FIFA's ethics committee. 

The letter from Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) follows a joint letter at the end of last week from the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights requesting Blatter to withdraw Salman's nomination because of his alleged involvement in human rights violations.

Sheikh Salman is currently embroiled in a bitter battle for power to take over the AFC as well as capture a seat on FIFA's executive committee - the most powerful body in world football.

The ADHRB letter highlights allegations of human rights abuses that would be "in violation of FIFA's Code of Ethics."

"We request that such allegations be referred to the Chairman of FIFA's Ethics Committee for review and consideration for possible investigation," says Husain Abdulla, Director of the ADHRB, and author of the letter.

Similar human rights abuses and allegations have previously been detailed by InsideWorldFootball and other media and specifically relate to Sheikh Salman in his capacity as president of the Bahrain Football Association, being involved in the identification via photographs of professional footballers who were arrested, tortured and publicly humiliated by national security forces.

(http://www.insideworldfootball.com/world-football/asia/12407-bahrain-human-rights-group-asks-fifa-to-withdraw-salman-from-afc-elections?highlight=WyJiYWhyYWluIl0=)

Sheikh Salman has twice denied wrongdoing in statements to the press, saying: "I have always been committed to manage, control and develop our game independently and autonomously without any kind of interference. I can assure anyone that the BFA is being guided to the highest possible governance standards of integrity and transparency - fully in line with FIFA and AFC statutes."

However, in these statements Salman has failed to respond to the detail of the allegations or offer any explanation as to the treatment of these players under his administration of the Bahrain Football Association. Sheikh Salman is also a member of Bahrain's ruling family.

At the heart of the ADHRB letter is the assertion that Sheikh Salman has broken Articles 13, 23 and 24 of FIFA's Code of Ethics.

The letter says: "Article 13 obliges officials to "behave in a dignified manner and act with complete credibility and integrity," and "to respect all applicable laws and regulations as well as FIFA's regulatory framework to the extent applicable to them." Article 23 of the code prohibits officials from "offend[ing] the dignity or integrity of a ... private person or group of people through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory word or actions on account of ... political opinion or any other opinion ... ." Similarly, article 24 requires officials to "ensure that the personal rights of every individual whom they contact and who is affected by their actions is protected, respected, and safeguarded." The same provision also forbids harassment, defined as "systematic, hostile and repeated acts for a considerable duration, intended to isolate or ostracise a person and affect the dignity of the person."

"By aiding in the identification of Bahrain's football players who participated in peaceful protests in 2011, resulting in their arrest, detention, and abuse, Sheikh Salman Al-Khalifa is complicit in the very forms of discrimination, harassment, and abuse prohibited by Articles 23 and 24 of FIFA's Code of Ethics."

At time of writing it is believed that Blatter had seen a copy of the ADHRB letter before leaving Switzerland to attend the AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur. It is also believed that FIFA's chief investigator Michael Garcia had similarly seen the letter. But to date there has been no indication by Garcia of an appetite to investigate.

For more detail on the ADHRB letter go to http://adhrb.org/2013/04/adhrb-asks-fifa-to-investigate-role-of-sheikh-salman-al-khalifa-in-2011-detention-and-abuse-of-football-players/

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