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Friday, April 19, 2013
Bahrain chief responds to allegations

ESPN staff

A candidate for president of the Asian Football Confederation has denied claims that he colluded in a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain.

Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the head of the Bahrain Football Association, dismissed links to the arrest and alleged maltreatment of players and officials earlier this week during the crackdown in 2011.

An Inside World Football report said officials from his office had identified players and officials from video of pro-democracy protests provided to it by the Bahrain authorities in 2011.

But he strongly denied the claims and said he would make a detailed statement on the issue in the near future.

Salman has also been accused of vote-buying following his unsuccessful challenge to Mohamed Bin Hammam for a seat on FIFA's executive committee in 2009.

Inside World Football reported that various sources had accused the Olympic Council of Asia of trying to influence the vote, while after his victory Bin Hammam also claimed there had been irregularities.

Salman said in a statement: "I can only reiterate the fact that, in my capacity as the President of the Bahrain Football Association (BFA), I have always been committed to manage, control and develop our game independently and autonomously without any kind of outside interference."

Speaking about the allegations surrounding his 2009 campaign, he said: "I can only vehemently deny this as there has never been any kind of misconduct or unethical behaviour with regards to my election programme.

"My campaign will always be based on the values of discipline and respect. I hope that - regardless of the outcome on the May 2 - all candidates will act in the spirit of fair play.''

There have also been claims that Salman's campaign is again being backed by the OCA, which is offering grants to countries if they promise to vote for the Bahrain FA chief as president of the confederation.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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