Shaikh Salman enters FIFA president race

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has confirmed that he will be putting his name forward for the FIFA Presidential Election in 2016. 

According to reports in his native Bahrain, Shaikh Salman, who has been the AFC president since 2013, submitted his papers on Sunday night following talks with interim FIFA president Issa Hayatou in Cairo. 

It is understood that Shaikh Salman had put his support behind UEFA president Michel Platini in his bid to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president. However, after Platini was suspended for 90 days due to corruption allegations, Shaikh Salman decided to run for the position himself. 

"Shaikh Salman has assured the AFC executive committee, who offered him overwhelming support, and the 47 AFC Member Associations that his campaign will be entirely self-financed and that he will not use the AFC’s resources, human or otherwise, in the election," a statement released by the AFC on Monday said. 

The current AFC president faces some tough competition from Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, a former FIFA vice-president, ex-FIFA executive Jerome Champagne, former Apartheid-era political prisoner turned businessman Tokyo Sexwale, ex-Trinidad and Tobago midfielder David Nakhid, and current UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino.

Shaikh Salman will also have to whether a storm of criticism after coming under heavy fire from human rights organisations for allegedly heading a committee that identified 150 athletes involved in the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011. It is reported that many of the athletes, which included international footballers, were later imprisoned and tortured. Shaikh Salman has strongly denied these claims.