Prince Ali claims FIFA rival Sheikh Salman failed to protect imprisoned players

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Football News

The contest for the FIFA presidency has taken on a personal edge after the favourite was accused by one of his rivals of failing to protect players.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan pointed the finger at his rival candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, the head of Asian football, over allegations from human rights groups.

Sheikh Salman is a member of the Bahrain royal family and has attracted opposition from human rights organisations due to the regime's role in the suppression of the country's pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011, which saw some footballers imprisoned and allegedly tortured.

He has denied any involvement but Prince Ali told a news conference in Geneva: "The simple, basic fact of the matter is that person did not protect or stick up for his players at that time."

Sheikh Salman has insisted he has never played a role in Bahrain's government and played no part in the detainment or mistreatment of any individuals.

Prince Ali's comments will intensify the rivalry ahead of the election of Sepp Blatter's successor on February 26. Three other candidates, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, France's Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa are also standing.

Prince Ali insisted he was a genuinely independent candidate who would ensure that FIFA had the proper reforms.

He added: "This election will determine whether a small group of powerful individuals will hold FIFA hostage."

The prince said if elected he would contact the US and Swiss attorney generals to offer the world governing body's full co-operation into their investigations into FIFA-related corruption.

Prince Ali brought along Musa Bility, the Liberian FA president who was prevented from standing for the FIFA election after failing integrity checks, to the news conference.

Bility claimed there was "interference or intimidation" over the African football confederation's (CAF) executive committee's announcement last week that it has endorsed Sheikh Salman. He insisted the CAF's decision did not bind any African country to support the sheikh.

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