For Immediate Release
23 October 2015
ITUC Condemns Potential Appointment of Bahraini Royal as FIFA President
The International Trade Union Confederation has today expressed severe concerns over the move to appoint Sheikh Salman Al-Khalifa as the next president of FIFA. Sheikh Salman, who headed the Bahrain Football Association during the crackdown on pro-democracy activists in 2011, is closely linked to the systemic arrest and torture of footballers in Bahrain.
Sharon Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC, said that it is “inconceivable” and “not credible” that Sheikh Salman could fill the void in FIFA amidst the corruption scandals engulfing the organisation. She further questioned the politics at FIFA and raised concerns over the imprisoned athletes and unionists in Bahrain.
BIRD has revealed how the FIFA Ethic’s Committee, headed by Michael Garcia, in 2014 refused to investigate the serious allegations against Sheikh Salman and the Bahrain Football Association, after receiving information from BIRD in this regard. Sheikh Salman is now expected to run as a candidate to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA President, despite being linked to identifying and targeting footballers who were subsequently arrested and tortured in Bahrain.
The ITUC further highlighted these cases that include 150 targeted athletes in the country, many who were arrested and tortured following a Committee chaired by Sheikh Salman targeted them.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the Director of Advocacy at BIRD said, “BIRD strongly backs and welcomes the action taken by ITUC. If FIFA is serious about reforms, it must now take serious steps to investigate Sheikh Salman for his complicity in crimes against Bahraini footballers and other athletes rather than pave way for his incomprehensible and absurd appointment as president”.
For further information click here: http://birdbh.org/2015/10/fifa-refused-to-investigate-violations-of-ethical-code-against-election-hopeful-sheikh-salman/
Full Statement by the ITUC
FIFA: Deep Concern Over Possible Candidacy of Bahrain’s Shaik Salman
Brussels, 22 October 2015 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has expressed deep concern over moves to install Bahrain’s Shaik Salman as President of FIFA. Salman has been accused by Bahraini human rights defenders of complicity in the detention and torture of footballers and other athletes in the bloody crackdown launched by Bahrain’s rulers in 2011. A possible Salman candidacy for FIFA President is rumoured to be gaining ground as support wanes for UEFA President Michel Platini who is currently suspended by FIFA over a $2million payment made to him by suspended FIFA President Joseph Blatter.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said “It’s difficult to know how low FIFA politics can actually go. Football’s governing body refused to investigate the allegations against Shaik Salman in 2011, and it is inconceivable that someone who is facing such grave allegations of human rights violations could step into the void at the top of FIFA resulting from Swiss and US corruption investigations. There are still trade unionists in prison in Bahrain, and freedom of association is still under attack.”
In 2014, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) wrote to FIFA’s then Ethics Committee Investigatory Chamber Chair Michael Garcia. Their letter called for an investigation into the allegations concerning Shaik Salman, now President of the Asian Football Confederation, stating that “At least six footballers from the Bahrain national football team were arrested, defamed and tortured following their public identification and humiliation by authorities, including the BFA [note: Bahrain Football Association]. More than 150 athletes, coaches and referees were jailed after a special committee, chaired by the former BFA president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, identified them from protest photos.” Garcia responded to BIRD that the Chamber’s jurisdiction was limited to investigating violations by football officials of applicable Code of Ethics provisions, and that the Chamber would take no action. Salman has denied the allegations.
“FIFA’s plan to forge ahead with electing a new President as crisis after crisis engulfs it at the highest levels is not credible. An independent and credible reform process, that guarantees the highest standards of governance and respect for human rights, is urgently needed.”
For more information on the torture and killing of Bahraini athletes and Formula 1 workers: