Bahrain campaigners warn Fifa sponsors of concerns more than Sheikh Salman

Bahraini pro-democracy campaigners have written to Fifa’s major sponsors to raise concerns more than Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa’s attempt to turn out to be the president of planet football’s governing body.

The Asian Football Confederation president has emerged as the favourite to take more than from Sepp Blatter at February’s election however the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy insists he nonetheless has inquiries to answer over his alleged role in punishing clubs just after the 2011 pro-democracy uprising in the country.

Sheikh Salman has admitted he was asked to head a fact-finding committee to examine the role of footballers and athletes inside the uprising, as reported by the state news service, but has said the committee was never formally constituted.

In the letter to Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa, Adidas, Budweiser, Gazprom and Kia, the BIRD also claims the Bahrain Football Association, of which Sheikh Salman was president in the time, suspended and punished six clubs on politically motivated grounds.

‘We hope Fifa’s sponsors look at our letter extremely seriously and respond quickly and appropriately,’ mentioned Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei of BIRD. ‘Sheikh Salman led the politicised punishment of clubs and denies the torture Bahraini players underwent. Coca-Cola have referred to as for an accountable Fifa. What occurred in Bahrain was a black mark on its history and Sheikh Salman must be held accountable for the component he played.’

In a letter, seen by the Guardian, the six clubs wrote to the BFA asking for their matches to be suspended on security grounds provided the security scenario within the nation. They were later fined and two were relegated.

A report around the Bahrain state news agency website in April 2011 said the BFA administrative council ‘stressed the importance of functioning in accordance to the commission of inquiry’s decisions regarding all people that have offended our leadership and our valuable Kingdom, and to operate on excluding all these whose participation [in the events] have already been verified which includes administrators, referees and members with the functioning committees of BFA.’