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Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) have filed a complaint with the Swiss Government against FIFA, regarding the candidacy of Shaikh Salman for the FIFA Presidency. The complaint to the OECD alleges that in allowing Shaikh Salman to stand for the Presidency FIFA has violated human rights provisions of the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
In 2011, thousands of Bahrainis protested as part of the ‘Arab Spring’ movement across parts of the Middle East. The official response was to shoot at protesters, arresting and torturing hundreds of people and killing over a dozen.
In his capacity as President of the Bahrain Football Association and Chairman of an investigative committee into the behaviour of athletes during the protest movement, Salman is alleged to have been involved in the government crackdown, retaliating against players and clubs alike for their activities during the protest movement.
Salman has repeatedly denied these allegations. However, ADHRB sees it differently.
“All the evidence suggests that Shaikh Salman was involved in the government crackdown on free expression and human rights,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB.
ADHRB believes the integrity check of candidates for the FIFA Presidency should have included investigation into involvement in human rights abuses, but ADHRB believes this did not take place. The integrity checks are the responsibility of Domenico Scala, chair of the Ad-Hoc Electoral Committee of FIFA.
ADHRB says they have asked FIFA to investigate Salman’s activities since 2013, the most recent of which it submitted in November last year. ADHRB claims that FIFA has repeatedly ignored requests to investigate.
“FIFA is big business, and like all multinationals it has to comply with its OECD obligation to carry out effective human rights due diligence,” said Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn, acting for ADHRB.
“Only FIFA has the authority to investigate the evidence of human rights violations but it has repeatedly failed to do so. I hope the OECD will now deal with the complaint quickly so that decisions can be taken in time for the elections,” Mr Carey said.
Mr Abdulla added that the evidence provided to the Swiss Government “contradicts” Salman’s persistent denials.
#NewFIFANow co-founder and sports governance activist, Jaimie Fuller, raised similar issues about Salman’s candidacy and the efficacy of the ‘integrity’ test in a recent blog, posing five questions for FIFA. We understand they remain unanswered also.
Another candidate for the FIFA Presidency, Prince Ali of Jordan, has also questioned Shaikh Salman’s suitability for the role of FIFA President.