Five enter FIFA presidency race; Bility, Platini sidelined

Baku, November 12, AZERTAC

FIFA has approved five candidates for its February presidential election amid the worst crisis in its history, after barring Liberia's Musa Bility on integrity grounds and leaving out UEFA chief Michel Platini while he remains under suspension.

Platini, the original favourite to succeed Sepp Blatter as head of global soccer's governing body, was not admitted because he has been suspended for 90 days pending a full Ethics Committee investigation.

FIFA had already announced that it would not process former French international football star while he was suspended, but could review its position if he wins an appeal against the ban.

Buffeted by a series of scandals over the last few years, FIFA was thrown into turmoil in May by the U.S. indictments of 14 football officials, including two FIFA vice-presidents, and sports marketing executives for alleged corruption.

FIFA's electoral committee said on Thursday the five approved presidential candidates were Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino of Switzerland and South Africa businessman Tokyo Sexwale.

Bility was not admitted "in view of the content of the integrity check report relating to him", it said.

Salman has dismissed as "false, nasty lies" allegations that he was involved in human rights abuses against pro-democracy activists during a 2011 uprising in Bahrain when he was head of the Gulf Arab country's football association.

The electoral committee said it had "assessed any allegations against the candidates carefully, including those against Sheikh Salman concerning his alleged involvement into the events in Bahrain in 2011".

It said no evidence of "any personal and direct involvement" by Salman in rights abuses had been found, so the committee had upheld his candidacy.

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