Fifa presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa has hit out at “nasty lies” over his time as Bahrain Football Association head.
He has been accused by Bahraini human rights groups of complicity in the detention and torture of footballers and other athletes.
“I cannot deny something that I haven’t done,” the 49-year-old told BBC Sport.
“Such accusations are not just damaging, it’s really hurting. Some people have agenda on their table.”
Scores of people were killed in 2011 when Bahraini security forces put down mass Shia-led protests calling for reforms.
Rights groups say Sheikh Salman helped identify players involved in the protests and failed to protect them from abuses.
Sheikh Salman told the BBC’s Richard Conway: “It’s not just damaging me, it’s damaging the people and the country.
“These are false, nasty lies that have been repeated again and again in the past and the present.”
Applications to succeed Sepp Blatter as president of football’s world governing body had to be submitted by 23:00 GMT on Monday.
- Salman will not take a salary if he is elected president of Fifa
- He backs the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to go ahead in Russia and Qatar respectively
- Accusations of human rights abuses are false and “damage Bahrain”, he says
- He supports limiting the Fifa presidency to three terms and 12 years
President of the Asian Football Confederation since 2013, Sheikh Salman vowed to clean up Fifa’s reputation, which has been left in tatters following a much-publicised spate of corruption charges, which began in May when seven top officials were arrested in Zurich.
“With the support I’m going to get we’re going to turn it around very quick,” he said.
“We have big examples of football organisations around the world – the Premier League, the Bundesliga, even Uefa who have from a football side and a revenue side, it is not even greater than Fifa, but it is handled in a very professional way. And this is what we want to bring to Fifa.”
With seven other candidates thought to be in the running for the Fifa presidency, Salman added: “To the other candidates, they have to be realistic as well.
“Unless you are supported by your confederation it’s going to be a very difficult job.”
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues