Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) recently sent a letter to the presidents of the 46 member nations of the Asian Football onfederation (AFC) asking them to oppose the candidacy of Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s nominee to the position of AFC president, in elections to be held May 2. ADHRB asked the member associations to reject Sheikh Al-Khalifa’s nomination based on concerns over his involvement in human rights abuses against football players on Bahrain’s national team during the 2011 uprising.
As head of the Bahrain Football Association, Sheikh Al-Khalifa is alleged to have helped to identify members of Bahrain’s national football team who had participated in protests in 2011, leading to their arrest, detention, abuse, torture, and public humiliation. Such conduct, if true, violates the AFC Code of Ethics, which requires officials to uphold the organization’s principles and ethical standards. Section 3.2 states that “officials … shall behave and act with complete credibility and integrity,” and section 8 requires officials to “respect and safeguard the personal rights of those persons whom they contact and with whom they deal.” Sheikh Al-Khalifa has denied any wrongdoing in the abuse of Bahrain’s football players.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rightshave also submitted a letter to International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) President Joseph Blatter, asking him to intervene in the nomination of Sheikh Al-Khalifa to AFC president.