Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa gained a major boost in his bid to become the next FIFA president when he received the endorsement of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Friday February 5th 2016. The 54-nation body of the CAF endorsed Sheikh Salman unanimously. Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa is a member of Bahrain’s royal family. He was the president of the Bahrain Football Association before becoming the president of the Asian Football Confederation.
While Sheikh Salman received a public endorsement of the CAF, the head of the Liberia Football Association said that “at least 26 African countries will defy their confederation and not vote for Sheikh Salman in the FIFA presidential election.” Liberia, along with Egypt, will support Prince Ali of Jordan. South Sudan will support Gianni Infantino. The endorsements from the football confederations in favor of other candidates may have nothing to do with the human rights abuse allegations against the Bahraini royal. Sheikh Salman is the favorite to win the elections, despite the allegations of human rights abuses leveled at him by human rights organizations over his involvement in the imprisonment and torture of pro-democracy protesters including Bahraini footballers and athletes in 2011. Because of Salman’s actions, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) asserts that 150 athletes, coaches, and referees were jailed. The non-endorsements from those associations mentioned above do represent a blow to his hopes to win the FIFA presidential elections on February 26, 2016.
Tyler Pry is an Advocacy Intern at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
Photo courtesy of AP