FIFA presidential candidates Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa and Gianni Infantino have denied making complaints over the legality of a proposed pre-election debate at the European Parliament.
The participation of Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman and UEFA general secretary Infantino was confirmed on Tuesday.
They will feature alongside Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale as the five candidates who will contest the February 26 election in Zurich that will decide Sepp Blatter’s successor.
Prince Ali, Champagne and Sexwale were due to take part at a debate in Brussels on Wednesday, organised by the NewFifaNow pressure group and the European Parliament’s Sports Intergroup.
Sheikh Salman had previously confirmed he would not attend while Infantino submitted a video presentation, but the event was plunged into farce on Monday when Prince Ali and Sexwale withdrew.
A statement from NewFifaNow co-founder and British Member of Parliament Damian Collins quoted a letter he received from Prince Ali, in which he disclosed he had been advised the forum “may well constitute a breach of FIFA election rules”, adding his understanding that either Sheikh Salman or Infantino had “made a complaint to the Ad Hoc Electoral Committee” on the basis of political interference.
But both men responded on Tuesday by denying Prince Ali’s claims.
A statement released by Sheikh Salman’s campaign office read: “Sheikh Salman has not filed a complaint with the FIFA Ethics Committee, nor the FIFA Electoral Committee pertaining to any alleged breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics or FIFA’s Electoral Regulations in any matter including the Brussels meeting organised by Damian Collins MP.
“Any claim to the contrary is false and invented.”
On his official Twitter page, Infantino said: “To be clear I have made no complaint re the cancelled @newfifanow EU Parliament debate.
“I was happy to participate if my schedule allowed.”
Collins was frustrated by the collapse of the debate plans, stating that such moves did nothing to rebuild FIFA’s credibility on the back of a scandal-ridden period.
“We are just seeing the same old FIFA at play and they have learned nothing about what they need to do to try to rebuild trust and credibility from the broader community,” he said in a NewFifaNow statement.