Sheikh protests innocence of human rights violations and says he will bring unity to football.
Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa has been discussing his bid to become the next Fifa president and admitted that he may not have stood were it not for the suspension imposed upon rival candidate Michel Platini.
“I don’t want too much power with the president — the power has to be shared,” Sheikh Salman said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“I believe in doing things in a different way, not being centralized where the president has to do every detail in running the business.”
One key pledge is that he will be taking no money for running FIFA.
“I don’t want to be an executive president,” the sheikh said. “And if I’m not an executive president I don’t see how I do deserve to be paid.”
Sheikh Salman is hoping that the current five candidates will have been reduced by the time of February’s election.
“I’d like to see most of the continents agreeing on a single candidate but we have to work for this in the next few weeks,” the sheikh said.
Having been among Platini’s early supporters, Sheikh Salman entered the race once it became clear the UEFA president’s suspension over that 2011 payment could rule him out of the election altogether.
The decision to stand was effectively a choice between Sheikh Salman and fellow FIFA executive committee member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti powerbroker who is also on the International Olympic Committe.
“We felt after Michel’s ban we felt one of us has to go,” Sheikh Salman said. “And I think that he looks at it as (a job for) the president of a confederation … it wasn’t a difficult choice between us.”
Platini is awaiting the full verdict from FIFA’s ethics judge which could result in him being prevented from contesting the presidential election.
“I think damage has been done,” Sheikh Salman said. “But he has the right as well to defend himself. We cannot judge.
“If he comes back and he still wants to run, I think we would have to sit together … and assess the situation. I am sure there will be an agreement. At the end of the day we all need to support each other … (and) come with a compromise to hopefully have a good solution for everybody.”
Whether that agreement could include the 49-year-old sheikh quitting the campaign is unclear.
“Anything is a possibility if it’s for the good of the cause,” he said. “But I didn’t go in and commit myself to give a full presumption I might withdraw. I’m in to go for the election.”
Sheikh Salam was also asked about his alleged involvement in the identification or the alleged torture of players during a government crackdown in 2011.
“This is a committee that’s been asked to look (at events) within the sports law, not the civil law … but never met because it cannot look into responsibility beyond its restriction,” he said. “The local law forbids us from taking any action which is unrelated to sport. It’s as easy as that. And the Bahrain federation which I chaired for more than 10 years never took a single decision on unrelated football matters. Never.”
“I feel that I have been used as a tool for a purpose in which I have no involvement whatsoever. This is the sad part of it. When you read about yourself in the papers and people imagine you as this person, you feel gutted. I don’t know how to describe it but for people just repeating a lie again and again and they ask you to defend yourself it just makes no sense,” he said.
“How many times to do I have to repeat myself, but people are using it for other motives which I have nothing to do with. I have said that all along that we are a sport body, that we are in charge of sport and whatever these rules and regulations are those are the rules we are going to apply.”
The sheikh had expected to gain Europe’s support until UEFA surprisingly endorsed Gianni Infantino. Infantino, who will stand aside if Platini is cleared, has been tipped for a role under a Sheikh Salman presidency.
“I’d like to feel like we are working together, not against each other — working for one cause to make that change,” the sheikh said. “We have to sit and talk and come to a solution of what’s best.”