Image: FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa attends an interview with Reuters in Panama City, Panama, January 8, 2016. REUTERS/Rafael Ibarra
ZURICH (Reuters) – FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa plans to keep the world soccer body’s headquarters in Zurich and retain the name “FIFA” if he wins the race for the game’s top job later this month.
Salman, answering questions in an interview published in the Zurich daily Tages-Anzeiger on Saturday, also denied accusations that he used funds from the Bahrain football association he headed at the time to win a FIFA executive committee seat.
“FIFA has always been in Zurich,” he said when asked how often he, a Bahraini, would be in the city if he succeeded Swiss-born Blatter. “I see no reason to change that … I will be in Zurich as often as needed.”
He also had no plans to change the scandal-ridden FIFA’s name. “It’s the work that must change, not the name,” he said. “We need zero tolerance against misconduct, fraud and corruption.”
Salman said he was paying out of his own pocket for his campaign to succeed Sepp Blatter, the disgraced FIFA president now banned from all football-related activity for ethics violations. Blatter has denied any wrongdoing.
He financed his campaigns for the FIFA executive committee seat in 2009 and presidency of the Asian soccer body in 2013 by himself, Salman said, and allegations of misusing funds were “a smear campaign”.
Asked if Blatter could attend a FIFA congress to elect his successor on Feb. 26 despite the ban against him, he said: “I respect the FIFA rules. If they say banned officials cannot take part, then that’s the way it is. The rules are for everyone.”
The other election candidates are UEFA interim chief Gianni Infantino, ex-FIFA executive committee member Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne and South African Tokyo Sexwale.
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
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