Asia-Pacific

Craig Foster challenges Bahraini AFC president to support Hakeem al-Araibi

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Former Socceroo Craig Foster has challenged the Bahraini AFC president on his response to Hakeem al-Araibi's detention.

Craig Foster, former Socceroo and current SBS commentator, has challenged the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to support Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi or resign. 

Mr al-Araibi, who lives in Australia and is a permanent resident, is facing deportation to Bahrain after he was arrested on an Interpol red notice when he arrived in Bangkok a fortnight ago.

Mr Foster on Monday called for AFC president Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, who is Bahraini, to publicly call for Mr al-Araibi's immediate return to Australia. 

Fozz
SBS football commentators Lucy Zelic and Craig Foster join the campaign to free Hakeem al-Araibi.
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Mr Foster said as president of the organisation the role carries "a non-negotiable obligation to do everything possible to uphold the human rights of all in football."

Craig Foster's letter
Craig Foster's letter
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Despite the red notice being lifted, Mr Al-Araibi remains in detention. Advocates say he could be deported to Bahrain within days, where "he will likely be tortured" due to previously speaking out against authorities.

Mr Foster has been advocating for Mr al-Araibi's release from Thai custody on behalf of the "Australian football family."

The former Australian international said if the president is unable to endorse the safe return of Mr al-Araibi to Australia, under the AFC Human Rights provisions, he should "immediately resign and allow the position to be conducted in accordance with its obligations under Article 3 of both the FIFA and AFC Statutes."

On December 7, football's governing body FIFA called for the return of Mr al-Araibi to Australia.

Hakeem Alaraibi is detained in Bangkok.
Hakeem Alaraibi is detained in Bangkok.
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FIFA said it expects his case "to be solved in accordance with well-established international standards," and has asked Australian football officials to urgently "take the matter up with their government".

It comes after Mr al-Aaraibi asked FIFA president Gianni Infantino to help "save his life" via advocacy group Human Rights Watch.

Mr al-Araibi is well-known in Bahrain, having played for the national football side before playing for Victorian football clubs, including Pascoe Vale.

Hakeem Alaraibi on the field.
Hakeem Alaraibi on the field.
Supplied

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