Meet the Fifa presidential candidates: Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa

Factbox on Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, one of five candidates standing for the Fifa presidency in an election on February 26.

Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman leaves the AFC Congress in Manama, Bahrain. The Sepp Blatter era at FIFA is set to finally end Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, when soccer’s scandal-scarred world body picks a new president after nine months of crisis. Two front-runners have emerged in a five-candidate contest: Asia’s soccer leader, Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, and Gianni Infantino, the Swiss general secretary of European governing body UEFA. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)
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LONDON // Factbox on Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, one of five candidates standing for the Fifa presidency in an election on February 26.

* Born in Bahrain on November 2, 1965 and a member of the Bahraini royal family. Is considered by many observers to be the front-runner in the race to become Fifa president.

* Graduated from the University of Bahrain in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and History.

* Although he never played the game at any elevated level, he rose to prominence as an administrator in Bahraini football and became vice president of the Bahrain Football Association in 1998 and president in 2002. He was subsequently elected president of the Asian Football Confederation in 2013 and became a member of the Fifa Executive Committee.

* He immediately made changes to the AFC constitution which in effect meant that Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan lost his seat as one of Asia’s representatives on the Fifa Executive Committee. The complicated political manoeuvring opened a rift with Prince Ali, who is also standing for election.

* Campaign groups including Human Rights Watch, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, have all accused him of heading a committee that identified athletes, including international Bahraini footballers, involved in pro-democracy demonstrations during the “Arab Spring” in 2011, many of whom were later imprisoned.

* He has vehemently denied involvement in any wrongdoing, continually denying the allegations throughout his campaign, claiming “these are false, nasty lies, repeated again and again. Do you think that we needed a committee to identify international Bahraini footballers?”

* In January he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African confederation which pledged to support his candidature, even though South African candidate Tokyo Sexwale is also running for the office.

Read also: AFC chief Sheikh Salman 'confident' next Fifa president will be from Asia

Key points of Sheikh Salman’s Fifa election manifesto:

* In line with the reform proposals, he has also advocated splitting Fifa into two at the governing level, with a financial/commercial department to handle the business side of the organisation and a football department to oversee football development and the organisation of the World Cup and all of Fifa’s other competitions.

* If elected he says he will take a non-executive stance as president, and have a more ambassadorial role, not wanting to “micromanage” the body, in line with the proposed reforms.

* Despite Fifa’s image having taken a battering as a result of its well-publicised problems, he would keep Fifa’s name and the organisation would remain in Zurich.

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