ZURICH (AP) — Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa was listed as an official FIFA presidential candidate on Thursday, while Musa Bility of Liberia was left out after failing an integrity check.
FIFA announced the five declared candidates for the Feb. 26 election, with Michel Platini a potential sixth man. Platini’s candidature was not judged at this stage by the FIFA election committee pending his ethics case.
The five candidates are: Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, Jerome Champagne of France, Gianni Infantino of Switzerland and Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa. They are in the running the replace Sepp Blatter, who announced in June he would step down as president after FIFA was plunged into crisis following U.S. and Swiss corruption investigations.
Sheikh Salman passed an integrity check by FIFA’s election panel despite protests filed by rights groups in Bahrain. Activists claimed Sheikh Salman took part in a process of abusing rights of athlete protesters during pro-democracy events in 2011.
The integrity check weighed “human rights violations” among “potential red flags,” which also included fraudulent behavior and match-fixing, FIFA said in a statement.
Bility, the Liberia soccer federation president, was excluded “in view of the content of the integrity check report relating to him,” the FIFA statement said.
“For reasons of protection of personality rights, the ad-hoc electoral committee — while it has explained its considerations in detail to Musa Bility — will not comment publicly on the specifics of its decision,” the statement said.
The integrity check also considered “corporate records, litigation cases, bankruptcy proceedings, potential regulatory actions taken against the candidate and a review of media reports concerning potential red flags.”
Platini is currently suspended for 90 days by the FIFA ethics committee, which aims to have a full hearing by the end of the year. The former France captain is implicated in a Swiss criminal investigation over a $2 million payment from FIFA approved by Blatter in 2011. Blatter is also suspended from presidential duty and awaiting the ethics investigation.