The Bahrain Football Association, while FIFA presidential hopeful Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa was president, allowed a convicted match-fixer to manipulate an international friendly on the BFA’s behalf,reports Sky News.
Sheikh Salman is now one of the front-runners to replace Sepp Blatter during the FIFA presidential election later this month, and he has promised to reform FIFA’s reputation of corruption if elected.
In September 2010, Bahrain defeated Togo 3–0 in an international friendly. It was revealed after the game the actual Togo national team were on a bus during the match—the players who competed against Bahrain were not actually Togo soccer players.
Documents acquired by Sky News reveal Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporan convicted for match-fixing, was given authorization from the BFA to manipulate the match. Perumal was convicted of match fixing in Singapore in 1995, and months after the Bahrain-Togo game, was imprisoned for fixing in Finland.
Bahrain used the company Football 4 You International to organize the match. The company, represented by Perumal and registered in FIFA, has since been identified to have arranged “several suspicious matches” by FIFA.
Sheikh Salman denied any wrongdoing to Sky News.
“We did not know. When somebody brings you the Togo national team you won't know the team,” Salman said. “How would I know the players? Once it was reported we co-operated with FIFA officials to know exactly what happened.”
A former FIFA investigator from Britain told Sky News that Salman should take some responsibility for the match.
FIFA will elect its new president on Feb. 26.