FIFA calls on Thai Government to let Hakeem Al-Araibi go
There was no mention of the head of the AFC, Shaikh Salman, in FIFA's statement, but it's a step in the right direction.10 January 2019 | FT Editor
It may have taken 45 days but it's better late than never.
FIFA issued a statement over night calling on authorities in Bahrain, Thailand and Australia to “take the necessary steps to ensure that Mr Hakeem Al-Araibi is allowed to return safely to Australia where he can resume his career as a professional footballer.”
FIFA called for a “humane and speedy resolution” of the case, after discussions with FFA in the UAE.
It comes six days after campaign group #NewFIFANow called on the President of the Asian Football Confederation, Shaikh Salman, to use his influence to ensure Al-Araibi is allowed to return to Australia from Thailand.
Al-Araibi is a Bahrain national who is currently being detained in prison in Thailand awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings to Bahrain, where he was previously convicted of a criminal offence. Al-Araibi strongly contests the validity of the alleged criminal offence.
As Al-Araibi has refugee status in Australia, he should not have been imprisoned by the Thai authorities in the first place.
“As a refugee with legal rights and specific status under international refugee conventions, Mr Al-Araibi is entitled to protection because of the refugee status granted to him by the Australian government. The Thai government should let this young man go, and the Bahrain government should not be seeking his return to Bahrain,” #NewFIFANow wrote to both FIFA and the AFC on 4 January.
There is hope that FIFA's stronger-than-usual statement will put pressure on Shaikh Salman - who is part of the Bahrain Royal Family and against whom Al-Araibi has made allegations as we detail here - to ensure Al-Araibi is able to resume his life in Australia.
The pressure should continue to be applied to the AFC and the relevant government authorities. Their details are provided below.
Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa
Senator Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mr Don Pramudwinai
hakeem al-araibi, fifa, afc, ffa, human rights, shaikh salman, #savehakeem